Originally Posted by p funky
So I'm considering buying one or two 5-gallon American white oak barrels (not too expensive, and shipping is gloriously free!).
Do any of you use them now? If so, for what sorts of wines? I was thinking some (or all) meads might do well in a barrel, and naturally wines will as well, but... what sort?
(Huzzah! First post in this sub-forum!)
Anything you fancy with bit of 'oaky-ness' will work if you want to experiment. - White/Red wine, Port and Sherry will all work. Are they new barrels? If so you need to ensure that the oak barrels are watertight before you do anything with them, filling them with clean water to ensure they swell enough to be really seal proof. If they aren't new you have to be sure nothing nasty has been stored in them and if not then take account of it's 'previous occupant'. If you don't like bourbon (for example) it'll take a while to get rid of it's notes - all personal taste I guess.
On a home wine making scale I'd suggest ageing in the cask for a few months just for flavour and then moving it to glass carboy or bottles for an 'oak conditioned' feel but real control on the overall storage.