Help Newbie! Start from scratch.

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Jan 24, 2009
Reaction score
My wife's grandfather gave me a 5 gallon wooden barrel to make wine in.

Where do I begin?

Do I need carboys? Airlocks? etc.

Can I simply mix up a batch, put it in wooden barrel, ferment for 2 - 6 months then drink?

Help, Help, Help
A wooden barrel is not for making the wine it is for aging it. I would recomend finding a local wine store and they will get you started. I live in Michigan and some of the party stores have wine making supplies.
Agree with above staement but must ask about barrel. Is this a new barrel?
1. Good question Wade. Trubes, what has the barrel been used for recently?

2. Trubes, please update the Location field in the Control Panel. This will help us to provide better answers to your questions. EG, "theres a great shop 10 miles away."

3. Welcome to WMT and our great hobby.

Last edited:
You can ferment in a barrel, but I probably wouldn't try it first time out. Wade and Steve are right to be concerned about the barrel... if it isn't made out of an appropriate wood (namely oak, but possibly cherry and maybe some other woods) or if it hasn't been stored and maintained properly or if it has been used for some other purpose, it is more likely to ruin any wine put into it than to improve it.
Regarding barrel: has not been used for quitw some time. Filled it with water to test for leaks, and after it swelled it was fine. Not certain of type of wood. Don't know what was made in it before.

Should I buy a kit and not use this barrel? Was going to buy cleaning agents for it.

Thanks for helping a newbie.
If your going to try using it I recommend getting a cheap kit so if something goes wrong you wont loose too much.
Ok guys, how about this:

fermenting in a wooden barrel might (mind the word might) impart extra methyl alcohol being made.

I got this form a winemaking book.

Methyl alcohol is of course poisenous. The antidote is ethyl alcohol. And that would also be present in your wine. So I presume not a lot of damage will be done.
I would however think twice about fermenting in a wooden barrel.

I wonder how the ancients did it ????

Lots of wineries still ferment their white wines in barrel. The actual process of barrel-fermentation doesn't really vary that much from fermenting in any other vessel. The main concern regarding barrel-fermentation is the fact that if the barrel has not been kept clean and sanitized in between uses it provides a perfect breeding ground for a host of spoilage organisms, such as bacteria and mold and once it gets infected with something it is virtually impossible to get it clean again. Barrels should be stored with a potassium metabisulphite solution in them in between uses. Also, the whole point of fermenting or aging wine in barrel is to impart wood flavours/aromas to the wine and to soften and integrate the wine due to microoxygenation through the pores of the wood. So,if the barrel has been used for more than a few years it will no longer have any ability to impart any flavours/aromas. In addition, most kit wines don't have the hard tannins that need softening through extended barrel aging, so I really don't see much benefit in using a barrel for your purposes. (Other than the fact that it's kinda cool!)