Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

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ninjabloke
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Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by ninjabloke » 13:05 Thu 07 Sep 2017

Hi All

Looking for advice to see if anyone has managed to age a good drop of Tawny in there barrel in hot and humid conditions?

The barrel will be stored in Darwin (Australia) where the humidity can get above %80 and the temperatures are around 25-35 degree mostly year round.

I have read that high humidity can affect the tawny and reduce the alcohol content overtime due to the alcohol being evaporated?

Hoping someone can give me some advice as to what my chances are long term for aging a tawny in the hot weather conditions in Darwin.

Thanks
Pete

Glenn E.
Quinta do Vesuvio 1994
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Re: Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by Glenn E. » 19:20 Thu 07 Sep 2017

I don't think the humidity is your problem; I think the temperature is going to kill your Port with any kind of long-term aging. Port should be aged at 12-15 degrees (C) for best results. 25 is the upper end of safe for short-term storage (but not good for aging), while 35 will absolutely cook it and it won't taste much like tawny at all.
Glenn Elliott

ninjabloke
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Re: Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by ninjabloke » 00:04 Fri 08 Sep 2017

Glenn E. wrote:
19:20 Thu 07 Sep 2017
I don't think the humidity is your problem; I think the temperature is going to kill your Port with any kind of long-term aging. Port should be aged at 12-15 degrees (C) for best results. 25 is the upper end of safe for short-term storage (but not good for aging), while 35 will absolutely cook it and it won't taste much like tawny at all.
Thanks for your reply Glenn, I have heard some people say that fortifieds typically mature in warmer weather conditions? Have you had a bad experience with the hot conditions affecting your port? Or just info you have read up on?

Andy Velebil
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Re: Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by Andy Velebil » 09:18 Fri 08 Sep 2017

ninjabloke wrote:
00:04 Fri 08 Sep 2017
Glenn E. wrote:
19:20 Thu 07 Sep 2017
I don't think the humidity is your problem; I think the temperature is going to kill your Port with any kind of long-term aging. Port should be aged at 12-15 degrees (C) for best results. 25 is the upper end of safe for short-term storage (but not good for aging), while 35 will absolutely cook it and it won't taste much like tawny at all.
Thanks for your reply Glenn, I have heard some people say that fortifieds typically mature in warmer weather conditions? Have you had a bad experience with the hot conditions affecting your port? Or just info you have read up on?
How big is your barrel? Are you talking about a small table top size or a wine barrel or a Port "pipe" size barrel?

With the general exception of Madeira, heat is the enemy of wine. Port in a barrel exposed to a warm ambient temperature in a otherwise shaded environment (like a garage) will mature at a much faster rate and it will also cause different flavors in the wine. Basically a baked off-type aroma and flavor. They may still be good, but they will be distinctly different due to being exposed to heat. The flavors are also something that some people will not enjoy in their Port. That said, leaving it sitting in the hot sun and you just may end up with vinegar quite fast. Exposing it to heat can also cause a host of bacterial issues as well, even in Port. Generally not wise to do.

As for humidity, more is better to slow the rate of evaporation. I am no chemist, but my understanding from the majority of winemakers I've spoken to from various parts of the world is as it evaporates the alcohol concentration goes down....very very slightly over a long time. But it's not that easy to answer as it really depends on a lot of variables that could cause the alcohol to evaporate off first. But since one has to top up a barrel quite often when exposed to a warm area, as it will evaporate more quickly, the addition of new wine/Port to the barrel will offset the loss through evaporation. Actually, depending on how often one is topping up you could also raise the ABV in it due to the addition of a higher ABV top-off wine. Regardless, unless that barrel is sitting there in a very hot environment for a very long period of time you won't get much change in ABV percentage. So there is no one correct answer to this question.

ninjabloke
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Re: Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by ninjabloke » 09:35 Fri 08 Sep 2017

Andy Velebil wrote:
09:18 Fri 08 Sep 2017
ninjabloke wrote:
00:04 Fri 08 Sep 2017
Glenn E. wrote:
19:20 Thu 07 Sep 2017
I don't think the humidity is your problem; I think the temperature is going to kill your Port with any kind of long-term aging. Port should be aged at 12-15 degrees (C) for best results. 25 is the upper end of safe for short-term storage (but not good for aging), while 35 will absolutely cook it and it won't taste much like tawny at all.
Thanks for your reply Glenn, I have heard some people say that fortifieds typically mature in warmer weather conditions? Have you had a bad experience with the hot conditions affecting your port? Or just info you have read up on?
How big is your barrel? Are you talking about a small table top size or a wine barrel or a Port "pipe" size barrel?

With the general exception of Madeira, heat is the enemy of wine. Port in a barrel exposed to a warm ambient temperature in a otherwise shaded environment (like a garage) will mature at a much faster rate and it will also cause different flavors in the wine. Basically a baked off-type aroma and flavor. They may still be good, but they will be distinctly different due to being exposed to heat. The flavors are also something that some people will not enjoy in their Port. That said, leaving it sitting in the hot sun and you just may end up with vinegar quite fast. Exposing it to heat can also cause a host of bacterial issues as well, even in Port. Generally not wise to do.

As for humidity, more is better to slow the rate of evaporation. I am no chemist, but my understanding from the majority of winemakers I've spoken to from various parts of the world is as it evaporates the alcohol concentration goes down....very very slightly over a long time. But it's not that easy to answer as it really depends on a lot of variables that could cause the alcohol to evaporate off first. But since one has to top up a barrel quite often when exposed to a warm area, as it will evaporate more quickly, the addition of new wine/Port to the barrel will offset the loss through evaporation. Actually, depending on how often one is topping up you could also raise the ABV in it due to the addition of a higher ABV top-off wine. Regardless, unless that barrel is sitting there in a very hot environment for a very long period of time you won't get much change in ABV percentage. So there is no one correct answer to this question.
The barrel is only a 20litre, yeah it's hard to say what the weather will do to it, min weather is normally about 21 degrees at night and 32 degrees during the day, so average of 25 degree. The barrel itself will be stored in the middle of the house, coolest place possible.

Really hit and miss, be interesting to see if anybody else makes a comment on some of there experiences with similar temperatures.

Cheers mate

Andy Velebil
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Re: Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by Andy Velebil » 13:05 Fri 08 Sep 2017

I assume you are filling it up with bottles bought from the store. If so, I would suggest leaving the empty barrel as a show piece and keeping the bottles in a wine cooler so they aren't damaged by prolong heat exposure. And it's not hard to say. Anything much above 25C is way too hot for prolonged storage of any wine.

At 20L one can assume a decent rate of drinking it which means a decent rate of having to top it off. Regardless, your other big issue, perhaps the biggest, is the oxidation issue that will occur by placing a finished Port back into a barrel.

This topic comes up from time to time, with regards to people who want to age their own tawny in a barrel. Generally it's a bad idea to do so. There is a lot that can go wrong and usually does at some point. And we haven't even talked about racking the barrel regularly to prevent bacteria growth and to remove any lees that may precipitate out, Volital Acidity or Brett issues that may happen. Aging any wine in a barrel is far more than just putting it in there and leaving it alone.

If you really want to serve Port from a barrel, cause it is kinda cool to do so, I'd recommend setting up some type of dispenser system inside the barrel that can't be seen. Like a Keg refrigerator. Then you could hook up bottles inside the barrel that are sealed with Argon so there is no spoilage issues and you could perhaps hook up a cooling system as well to keep the Port cooler.

LGTrotter
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Re: Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by LGTrotter » 21:45 Fri 08 Sep 2017

I wonder if Pete is going to be using Aussie ports for this. In which case the example of Seppelt fortified wines that are kept in tin sheds in the outback (I believe) may show that while he may not get what we would think of as port in the northern hemisphere he may get something uniquely Australian. Madeira is also a fortified wine which is kept warmer than port but is still a riveting drink. Never tried a barrel though so I have no direct experience.

Glenn E.
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Re: Port Barrel Storage in Hot & Humid Weather

Post by Glenn E. » 00:53 Sat 09 Sep 2017

ninjabloke wrote:
00:04 Fri 08 Sep 2017
Glenn E. wrote:
19:20 Thu 07 Sep 2017
I don't think the humidity is your problem; I think the temperature is going to kill your Port with any kind of long-term aging. Port should be aged at 12-15 degrees (C) for best results. 25 is the upper end of safe for short-term storage (but not good for aging), while 35 will absolutely cook it and it won't taste much like tawny at all.
Thanks for your reply Glenn, I have heard some people say that fortifieds typically mature in warmer weather conditions? Have you had a bad experience with the hot conditions affecting your port? Or just info you have read up on?
I have not aged Port myself, but I have tasted Port that had been heat damaged. And while (as Andy said) it won't necessarily taste bad, it also probably won't taste like you're expecting it to taste. If you've read a lot of tasting notes on TPF and FTLOP then you have probably seen reference to "Douro bake" and that's exactly what I'm talking about here. It's something of an "off" flavor, but not a bad one... just clearly not normal and not what most people expect or want from a Tawny Port.

Of course, this assumes you're talking about real Port from Portugal. Australian "stickies" (as we refer to them here) and their progenitors are made and age differently. For all I know they may mature correctly in warm to hot temperatures. Also, Madeira is aged in attics on the island specifically to heat it up while it ages, but of course Madeira tastes nothing like Port.

So in a way it is a question of "what are you trying to make?" If your goal is a standard Portuguese Tawny Port, the heat range you're talking about is too warm and will result in a failed experiment. But if you're aiming for some other flavor profile, it may very well work. Given my experience with just a few Australian stickies, the heat you're talking about might actually be correct for them.
Glenn Elliott

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