Neutralize a oak barrel, quickly...

Discussion in 'Kit Winemaking' started by crushday, Oct 27, 2018.

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  1. Oct 27, 2018 #1

    crushday

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    Does anyone know how to neutralize a brand new oak barrel? I've just purchased three 6.1 gallon oak barrels and I'd prefer they were neutral so I'm not over-oaking the wine and, I'm not fussing with aging wine in a new barrel for a couple weeks before transfering or bottleing.

    I'm more interested in the micro oxidation properties of the barrel and plan on adding spirals when the barrels are neutral.

    If going through the paces is the only way, I'll do it...
     
  2. Oct 27, 2018 #2

    stickman

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    Wow, you're making the barrel coopers cringe, it seems a shame to throw away those expensive toasted tannins. There might be some members here that will gladly leach those tannins for you, but it will take some time. If you really want to make the barrel neutral fast, use a sodium carbonate solution soak, about 7grams per gallon of water, you'll have to leave it in there for several days and then drain and rinse, followed by a soak of equal time of Kmeta/citric acid solution to neutralize remaining carbonate. I've rinsed a barrel with sodium carbonate solution, but never tried to make one neutral, it may take several weeks for the solution to get deep enough into the wood, so I'm not certain how you will know it is neutral other than by nose; you're going to be in uncharted territory.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
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  3. Oct 27, 2018 #3

    mainshipfred

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    Not sure how many wines you have going into those barrels but if you had, for example, 9 you could keep racking them back and forth. The 2nd and 3rd time will take longer then the first and after the 3rd is finished you could put the first one back in an leave it for an extended time. Probably not the answer you are looking for.
     
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  4. Oct 27, 2018 #4

    Boatboy24

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    Honestly, 'breaking in' a barrel that size isn't too bad. 4-5 weeks for the first wine. 6-8 for the 2nd. After that, you're at 10-12 weeks - maybe longer. So you'll have two rackings/transfers in the first couple months. Best part is, you get to taste test every week or two. ;)
     
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  5. Nov 5, 2019 #5

    MiBor

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    @crushday, have you tried the sodium carbonate method on your barrel?

    I just bought 2 x 20l barrels and I'm a little concerned about over-oaking my wine with them. They are made from white American oak, not French or Hungarian oak, and I'd like to leach some "oakiness" out of them before putting my wine in there. I'm only interested in the micro-oxidation and concentration of the wine and I plan on adding a controlled amount and specific type of oak to the wine, once the barrels are neutral.
     
  6. Nov 5, 2019 #6

    crushday

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    Exactly the reason for my original question. I have not tried sodium carbonate but will on my next new barrel.

    thanks!
     
  7. Nov 5, 2019 #7

    MiBor

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    I'll try it with one of my new barrels. Since I'll be filling both of them with the same wine, I should be able to smell and taste the difference in "oakiness" after a few weeks.
     
  8. Nov 6, 2019 #8

    MiBor

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    So, I received my 2 barrels today and upon closer inspection I realized that the inside of the staves on both of them is completely charred! About 1/8" to 3/16" deeply burned and charred! They were supposed to be medium toast and look nothing like the medium toasted cubes and spirals that I've used before.
    Does anyone know if this is normal? I have no prior experience with barrels and I don't know what to expect. Will this charr dissolve in water and expose the wood of the staves to the wine? Should I send them back?
     
  9. Nov 6, 2019 #9

    mainshipfred

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    Put some water in them and if it comes out black they are charred not toasted. Toasted will come out as a light brown color. Charred is not really recommended for wine.
     
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  10. Nov 6, 2019 #10

    Ajmassa

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    Lol. Yep. Initially I thought the exact same thing when looking into my 1st barrel last year. It looks badly charred but it’s not.
    And it doesn’t resemble the spirals or cubes because I believe they are toasted differently. Kinda like baked in an oven whereas the barrels are over open flames for however long that specific toasting calls for. Just make sure ya do the proper new barrel prep work
    American medium on a new 5gal barrel will get ya there quick. Don’t forget to check it often! And good luck.
     
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  11. Nov 6, 2019 #11

    MiBor

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    Thank you for your replies. I looked again at the listing for the barrels that I purchased and they are described as "medium charred", but also as suitable for "aging wine". Personally, I believe that they are completely charred and not usable for wine. I asked the seller to remove the wine part from the listing and approve my return request. I thought that I really got a good deal getting 2 barrels for the price of 1 Vadai of the same capacity. You live, you learn, I guess....
     
  12. Dec 4, 2019 at 8:09 PM #12

    MiBor

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    I ended up purchasing 2 new 5gal Vadai barrels (which actually hold 6 gallons minus 1 750ml bottle) and ran the fast neutralization experiment on one of them. I soaked the barrels with K-Meta and Citric Acid for 3 days, than rinsed and replaced the solution in one barrel with water + 40g sodium carbonate for another 3 days. After that I rinsed and refiled both barrels with K-Meta and Citric.
    One observation I made was that the 3 day old sodium carbonate solution was a lot darker in color when it came out of the barrel than the 6 days old K-Meta/Citric solution.
    I put the same wine in both of the barrels and last night I checked them both after one week of aging. I think it may be too early to tell but the barrel without the sodium carbonate solution already gave the wine a slight hint of oak taste and smell, but the other one didn't.
    I'll keep checking every week for the planned 2 months of aging and I'll post my conclusion after that.
     
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