Holding lees prior to addition

Hey Clark,

We have been using PM Winemaking as a topic of discussion. My crew tells me I'm post modern.

So ... lees. If we don't want them with some wine for a while, what do we do in the interim? Have you cleverly figured a system for storing lees? As a tiny producer options like freezing would work for me. I use freezers regularly, 55 gal drums are great for cryo- extraction.

Thanks for putting out the book, good food for thought.

Regards, Paul

Hi Paul,

Glad you are finding the book useful.

Lees can be left at the bottom of the tank or barrel, and do not cause trouble in young red wines unless they are stirred, in which case they will attack monomeric anthocyanins and lead to dryness.

Be sure to distinguish fine lees from gross lees, which should be racked off of at the earliest moment post fermentation. The fine lees are anything that moves.

Some wineries consolidate lees in bruts or drums. They will take care of themselves remarkably well if stirred each day with a paddle.  Sometimes an aeration bubbler is set up on a timer to kick up the lees every six hours or so.  The key is to prevent clear wine on the top.

Generally lees can be recombined after 100 days or so.  If you don't have a spectrophotometer, just acidify 50 mls of the wine in a glass to pH 2.0 with sulfuric acid and compare with a glass of the unacidified wine.  When there is little or no change, your pigment polymerization is complete and it is safe to add lees back to coat the structure.