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pgentile

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Being that a barrel will be arriving within the next 30 day and although I've read many of the threads here, and a few articles, I still have a few questions from those with experience.

First humidity? I don't have a humidifier in my basement. Would controlling the humidity help with barrel aging wines?

Temperature? Same questions as above?

I can't remember where I read it, but below or over a certain temp or humidity will determine whether you evaporating water or alcohol?

In between batches? I've read here to keep the barrel topped up with k-meta solution in between batches. I probably won't have this issue, but I've read at wineries where they turn the barrels with bung whole down and let them dry when not in use. Of course sulfuring them. But which is the best method?

Thanks for any help.
 

ibglowin

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IMHO, You really should not be getting a barrel unless you can keep it full 365 days a year especially if its a small one. They are tough to get sealed properly especially a small one and if you are thinking of filling the barrel with KMETA between batches unless the barrel is neutral you are sucking oak out with each passing day. Draining it means you have to properly rinse/drain/sulpher and then rehydrate it again and hope it doesn't develop a leak that needs plugging or worse adjusting the hoops in order to tighten properly and stop a leak.
 

mainshipfred

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Your question about evaporating alcohol or water is something I wasn't aware of. Would like to hear the comments. I doubt very seriously you will have a problem keeping them filled especially with fall around th corner.
I believe the main benefit to controlling humidity is the lose of wine. I have yet to put a humidfier in my walk in but was considering keeping a large wet towel around the barrel so if anyone has any comments on this.
My first barrel was for a spring batch and once it was done the barrel stayed full with the solution until fall. It took a long time if ever to get that wine oaked properly so I would use sulfur sticks. As far as drying and rehydrating my first barrel did leak and I had to adjust the hoops to get it to stop but this was very easy. I just ground a 3/4 inch cold chisel flat and ran it around the hoops with a hammer and it tightens them very easily.
 

pgentile

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I doubt very seriously you will have a problem keeping them filled especially with fall around th corner.
I don't think I will either, but I just want to have a go to plan in case it did arise.

One or more of my spring batches could end up in the barrel first. I didn't have the proper oak on hand when I put the carmenere/malbec in bulk.
 

mainshipfred

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I don't think I will either, but I just want to have a go to plan in case it did arise.

One or more of my spring batches could end up in the barrel first. I didn't have the proper oak on hand when I put the carmenere/malbec in bulk.
So Pinotage first 6 to 8 weeks, then the C/M 8 to 10 weeks, next say 12 to 14, then 16 to 20. You're already into spring. Better place your barrel order for next year.
 

pgentile

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IMHO, You really should not be getting a barrel unless you can keep it full 365 days a year especially if its a small one. They are tough to get sealed properly especially a small one and if you are thinking of filling the barrel with KMETA between batches unless the barrel is neutral you are sucking oak out with each passing day. Draining it means you have to properly rinse/drain/sulpher and then rehydrate it again and hope it doesn't develop a leak that needs plugging or worse adjusting the hoops in order to tighten properly and stop a leak.
There will be no ussiue with keeping it full all the time. But you answered my question in thread from 5 years ago.

Just remember above ~70% relative humidity you are losing primarily ALCOHOL to the Angels. Below ~70% relative humidity you are losing primarily WATER. You decide what you want to share with the Angels to some extent.

I prefer to give my Angels mostly water!
https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/barrel-temp-humidity.36573/

I need to start monitoring humidity in my basement. Don't know what the range is. The angels can have water, but I'm not getting them drunk.
 

Ajmassa

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Great info here! Especially the humidity.
I’ll be jumping into the barrel world as well. Reason I waited was specifically to be able to have enough wine to keep em filled straight through until neutral.
To go along with the Hungarian barrel I found myself a French barrel. Smaller volume Frenchies are not easy to find in the US either. Worked out well though. Saint Martin makes a 55L which is exactly what I was looking for. Will compliment my batch sizes of 20gal (54L demijohn and carboy) well.
Just need to decide which wines to put in which barrels. Looking forward
 

pgentile

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Great info here! Especially the humidity.
I’ll be jumping into the barrel world as well. Reason I waited was specifically to be able to have enough wine to keep em filled straight through until neutral.
To go along with the Hungarian barrel I found myself a French barrel. Smaller volume Frenchies are not easy to find in the US either. Worked out well though. Saint Martin makes a 55L which is exactly what I was looking for. Will compliment my batch sizes of 20gal (54L demijohn and carboy) well.
Just need to decide which wines to put in which barrels. Looking forward
Not just jumping into barrels but leaping, I like it.
 

Ajmassa

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Not just jumping into barrels but leaping, I like it.
It’ll be fun to note the differences from small Hungarian to 15gal French. Larger volume and oak type lets me keep the wine in much longer too.
Will be a lot of trial and error, and I’m sure we will be leaning on each other when needed. Trying to time it for the oak to compliment the wine and not step all over it (like all my previous oaked wines I feel) will be the goal. Here’s hoping.
 

pgentile

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It’ll be fun to note the differences from small Hungarian to 15gal French. Larger volume and oak type lets me keep the wine in much longer too.
Will be a lot of trial and error, and I’m sure we will be leaning on each other when needed. Trying to time it for the oak to compliment the wine and not step all over it (like all my previous oaked wines I feel) will be the goal. Here’s hoping.
Hey seems like the logical way to take to the next level. But it will be another learning experience for sure.

Reading up on the proper way to cure or start the barrel off.
 

Ajmassa

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I’ve read over a few different barrel care guides over the years and have the PDFs saved to have a general idea. Will cross each bridge as I come to them. Regardless of all the prep one could do, I’m sure I’ll look like a monkey effing a football the first time or 2 until it naturally becomes routine—Just like everything else in this great hobby.
Just make sure to leave that plastic wrap in place! Will prep and fill when I’m good and ready
 

mainshipfred

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I’ve read over a few different barrel care guides over the years and have the PDFs saved to have a general idea. Will cross each bridge as I come to them. Regardless of all the prep one could do, I’m sure I’ll look like a monkey effing a football the first time or 2 until it naturally becomes routine—Just like everything else in this great hobby.
Just make sure to leave that plastic wrap in place! Will prep and fill when I’m good and ready
Just an FYI, AIO Steve recommends using a 1/2" hose for filling the barrel. Has to do with negative pressure in the barrel since by nature the barrel will be exerting positive pressure and the 1/2" vaccuum helps relieve this. I just got a #10 bung with a 1/2" degassing tube.
 

pgentile

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Just an FYI, AIO Steve recommends using a 1/2" hose for filling the barrel. Has to do with negative pressure in the barrel since by nature the barrel will be exerting positive pressure and the 1/2" vaccuum helps relieve this. I just got a #10 bung with a 1/2" degassing tube.
I have a few of those already sitting around from beer making. Does it need a second whole drilled in the bung?
 

Ajmassa

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Just an FYI, AIO Steve recommends using a 1/2" hose for filling the barrel. Has to do with negative pressure in the barrel since by nature the barrel will be exerting positive pressure and the 1/2" vaccuum helps relieve this. I just got a #10 bung with a 1/2" degassing tube.
Thanks. He Said similar for the demijohn glass too. But i got lazy and been using the 3/8 just fine. Drilling holes in rubber bungs doesn’t have to be perfect either. I used a drill bit about half size of the tube - and the rubber stretches and seals around a tube just fine.
Planned on filling by gravity anyway tho. Didn’t realize you could pull a vacuum on a barrel. I found a cool siphon starter in the PI wines catalog made solely by them. I realize I can easily make my own- but I wanted it anyway. I’m sure I’ll find my preference for this aspect eventually. http://www.piwine.com/cgi-piwine/sb/ss_mb.cgi?storeid=*148c4f20af3d50c710744125&ss_parm=A5d1ed43342bb38e5e23753abaa600f89
 

NorCal

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I keep my barrels in <69 degree "cold box" I've run plenty of 60's and a few 30's through there, with low humidity. The theory is that low humidity level will give you more water evaporation and in higher humidity levels you will lose alcohol.
 

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