Need Help: Barrel good or bad?

Discussion in 'Barrels & Oaking' started by Mbogan, Sep 17, 2017.

  1. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    Hi All (first time poster) -

    So, I need some opinions or strategies before I proceed with my barrels. I have been making wine annually since 2010. Due to new job and other reasons, I have not been able to make wine the last 2 years. After emptying my barrels last, they were thoroughly rinsed with hot water and Soda Ash/Sodium Metabisulphite. After drying they were sealed with bung. Unfortunately, I skipped the next 2 seasons. Both barrels are fairly new, only 2 batches each. I have a 27 gallon French Oak and a 6 gallon American Oak.

    I just started process for this year and would like to prep the barrels again for wine, but am fearful there may be an issue since they were not stored with proper solution.

    I opened them up and did the "sniff test". Both barrels smell like wood, with NO Oder that I would consider foul. Doesn't this mean the barrels are ok to reseason? I was going to rerinse with sodium metabisulphate again and follow up with citric acid.

    How can I be sure they will not spoil my new batch? Any opinions or tips and tricks I can use to verify?

    Thanks a million for any advice

    Matt
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  2. ibglowin

    ibglowin Moderator Super Moderator

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    I would fill them both up with sanitizing solution. Use one-half pound (0.23kg) of citric acid and one pound (0.45 kg) of sodium or potassium bisulphite for each 50 gallons (190 L) of barrel capacity. Do not use less than the stated amounts. Let them sit for a few days to let the wood swell once again and check for any leakage. Drain, rinse well and you should be good to go.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
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  3. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    Thank you!! I will follow this approach.
     
  4. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    I have a follow up question. Are you suggesting to do this in one step or two? I cant tell from above.

    I just read another article that was similar to your solution, however, they suggest two separate steps:

    First, fill partially with cool water. Add a solution of either sodium carbonate or sodium percarbonate in water at a rate of 1 tsp per gallon (or use 1 g/L) for mild spoilage problems or up to a maximum of 3 tsp for more serious problem.

    Let the barrel soak overnight, empty it and neutralize any remaining alkaline residues using a citric acid solution. Prepare the citric acid solution by dissolving citric acid powder in one gallon of water. Use 1 tsp of powder for each gallon of barrel volume. For example, dissolve 15 tsp for a 15-gallon (57 L) barrel.

    Fill the barrel two-thirds with cool water, pour in the citric acid solution, top up with cool water, and let the barrel soak overnight. Then, empty the barrel and rinse it thoroughly. Drain the water completely and let the barrel dry. Smell the barrel for any off odors to ensure the treatment worked.

    I'm assuming that I probably shouldn't be putting both the potassium metabisulphite and citric acid in the barrel at the same time as that would neutralize each other.

    Let me know which I should be following.
    Thanks
    Matt
     
  5. sour_grapes

    sour_grapes Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers

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    Matt, your post references THREE different chemicals, but you seem to be equating two of them.

    The suggestion from Mike referenced citric acid and potassium (or sodium) metabisulfite. These should be used at the same time. The reason is because the citric acid lowers the pH, and that affects the action of the potassium metabisulfite. The potassium metabisulfite is being used here as an anti-microbial agent (i.e., disinfectant).

    The suggestion that you quote from your other article references citric acid and sodium percarbonate. The latter is used as a cleaner. (It is likely what you use in your dishwasher.) But because it is alkaline, you want to neutralize its residue using citric acid.
     
  6. ibglowin

    ibglowin Moderator Super Moderator

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    Paul is spot on in regards to the combination of citric acid and KMETA. Citric acid is cheaper and is only needed to lower the pH further and make it a better/stronger sanitizing agent.

    Since it sounds like you cleaned out the barrels well before you let them sit I didn't think they would need a second cleaning with soda ash. It would not hurt to do it again but make sure you rinse well/neutralize before moving on to sanitizing with Citric/META solution.

     
  7. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    Thank you for the explanation. This clears up the confusion I was having.
     
  8. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    Yeah, I was getting confused and didn't realize the different chemicals that were mentioned. I'm following your original suggestions. Thanks again!!
     
  9. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    I followed instructions and have started process to seal my barrels. Started with 20% hot water, swished around, stood on head, filled both heads on outside for 20min. Emptied then refilled with solution of Citric Acid and Potassium Metabisulphite. After a week I have tapped both barrels off 3 times with addition water (they are both filled to top). However, every few days I check again and the water has dropped 1/2 inch.

    I did notice on the head of one barrel, a small wet spot between the head staves. On the other barrel I haven’t found any spots but the water keeps dropping.

    Any thoughts? Should I keep filling it up with more water? I read about getting a test bung (I can’t find anywhere) that will let me put air into the barrels to find the leak, then chisel out and try and fix.
     
  10. stickman

    stickman Veteran Winemaker

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    You started with very dry wood, so the water level dropping quickly probably indicates the wood is still taking up water. I would keep topping for a while longer and see if that wet spot goes away.
     
  11. ibglowin

    ibglowin Moderator Super Moderator

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    You don't say how long you have had water in the barrel(s) but it could take 24-72 hours to swell up and seal. Most small spot leaks can be easily fixed with a little barrel wax on the leaky stave. No need to pull out a chisel that's for sure!
     
  12. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    It’s been about 1 1/2 weeks so far. I’ll keep tapping off for now. I’ll pick up some barrel wax and see if that helps. Also, any idea where to get a test bung that allows filling Barrel with compressed air to help locate leaks?
     
  13. Mbogan

    Mbogan Junior

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    Update and Question

    I picked up some Barrel wax and took care of the problem areas, so I am good from a leaking perspective now.

    However, i do have a question about the solution that I used above (Potassium Metabisulphite + Citric Acid). After emptying the barrel and rinsing once, there is a strong “chemical” order left over from the solution. Is that normal? The barrel has had the solution in it now for 3weeks. I’d like to fill with wine now. I’m assuming this is probably normal, but want to confirm.

    Also, that solution was pretty harsh when accidentally breathing in. Need to be careful not to inhale when I was emptying it out.
     

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