I am making a red wine from grapes, the way I did it is, I let the grapes in the wine for 15 days before taking them out in order to extract more colour and tannins and then I racked the wine off its lees after 3 days. Although I was aware of the issue of oxidation when wine is exposed to air, at the time of racking I did not pay attention to it well and so my racking had lot of wine splashing in the carboy.Reading about the issue of oxidation online, I am quite worried if my wine would go bad. however I am also confused, I read in the link posted below that oxidation would be helpful in the case of red wines but not white. So could someone please clarify this? Do I need to be very cautious when bottling and storing or is exposure to air a good thing? (In red wines). The link as mentioned: https://winemakermag.com/541-oxidation-as-partner-techniques
The author of the article is reliable, Daniel Pambianchi has written books on homewinemaking.
You need to be concerned about oxydation mainly after the completion of fermentation. Also oxidation is less prone to occur if the quantity of SO2 (sulfites) is sufficient, adding campden tablets can help if you want to age your wine for a long time. The most important thing in the article, in my opinion, is the 10 tips to avoid oxidation:
- Transfer whites quickly to carboys
- Adjust the pH to a level less prone to oxidation
- Use sulfite as required based on the wine’s pH level
- Top up carboys, barrels and tanks
- Rack by gravity whenever possible
- Avoid pumps
- Use closed systems for transferring wines
- Use ascorbic acid diligently
- Store wine at a cool temperature
- Inspect your equipment regularly
What the article mentions, is that a splash racking could help a red improve its fruit character. I would recommend to perform this only in the first racking, when the fermentation is still strong, after that introducing oxygen is more risky. Honestly, I do not think that it will make a big difference on the finished product, the origin and quality of the grapes is so much more important.
Daniel mentions that storing wine in a wood barrel is a form of microoxygenation. We all know that is has been done for centuries (without being called Microoxygenation). Not only the wine ages slowly (some air is slowly introduced) but it also takes some of the wood character, flavor and tannins. The wine still needs to be bottled after months to stop the aging when you are satisfied with it, otherwise it will oxidize eventually.
To answer the question
It is not a big problem to introduce oxygen in early stages of fermenation (it will even help to start the fermentation). But when storing, aging and bottling the wine, we need to be more careful. My conclusion is that if you are making some good wine already and want to try to go a step up, you may try those techniques. If you can, split your batch in two, and try these techniques in one batch and then compare the results.
I have 20 years of winemaking experience, 15 years owning my own winery. Let me tell you what I did and what the vast majority of winemakers do. Very little. Use sulphites and maintain their levels based on pH of your wine. Keep your barrels topped up. Gently rack, but don't go overboard. Red wine, especially tannic ones, need some Oxygen to soften the tannins. Getting some oxygen in your wine during racking isn't going to do much. For a time I would fill my tanks with Nitrogen and my bottles too. Then I stopped because I couldn't tell a difference years later. Just keep an eye on your sulphites.
If there is one thing I could tell amateur winemakers is keep your sulfite levels up. From post fermentation to bottling. Your wine will thank you!