Oak barrels

Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by hayden, Apr 3, 2012.

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  1. Apr 3, 2012 #1

    hayden

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    Okay, so here's my situation. My dad friggin' loves wine. Good wine. He's set on aging some of the Pinot Noir we'll be making in oak barrels. My question is this... If we are to be making 4 cases (approx. 12 gallons) is it necessary we buy an oak barrel thats EXACTLY 12 gallons? Can we get a bigger one and age it with extra space in the barrel? Thanks!
     
  2. Apr 3, 2012 #2

    robie

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    No, the wine has to fill the barrel. Excess space in the barrel can cause oxidation.

    Buy a barrel that will hold most of the wine, put the rest in a glass container or two. Those glass containers should be filled full to within an inch or so from the top. Later, you can exchange the wine in the glass containers for some of the wine in the barrels. That way all will get barrel time.
     
  3. Apr 3, 2012 #3

    hayden

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    Robie- You the man! Thanks! I googled for wayyyy too long. Forums from now on!
     
  4. Apr 3, 2012 #4

    robie

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    By the way, welcome to the forum. Hope we can be of help to you when you need it.
     
  5. Apr 3, 2012 #5

    Runningwolf

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    Hayden, welcome aboard. Like Robie said, keep the barrels topped up and adequate meta in the wine.
     
  6. Apr 3, 2012 #6

    hayden

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    Thanks Robie- my dad's a wine lover and I'm.. well.. free manual labor mostly, but also the primary researcher in this new endeavor. I'm looking forward to learning how to make wine, such an interesting hobby I know my father and I will be able to bond over for many years to come!
     
  7. Apr 3, 2012 #7

    digitaleye

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    Might I suggest that for only 12 gallons of wine a barrel may be too much oak, especially for something like Pinot which is not usually that heavily oaked. I'd suggest using a diferent vessel and oaking with oak chips or somesuch where you can control the level of oakiness. Also, small oak barrels can get EXPENSIVE, I just saw a fe 5/10 gal ones for sale for +$250.
     
  8. Apr 3, 2012 #8

    hayden

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    This is all very useful information. My father is really hesitant about the whole oak chip/powder business, he says it's something he's found undesirable in a wine. I'm pretty sure he wants the oak barrels for largely nostalgic reasons, although I don't want to be putting words in his mouth. That being said, digitaleye brings up a good point, I wouldn't have even thought of that. What other vessel would you guys suggest? Maybe just straight to the bottle and aged there?
     
  9. Apr 3, 2012 #9

    Deezil

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    I cant blame your father for being hesitant about oak powder.

    As for being hesitant of oak chips, or even spirals - i think he might need more exposure to the idea. Especially the spirals, although they take longer to impart the oak flavors into the wine than oak chips, they might have enough nostalgia for him yet be more practical.
     
  10. Apr 3, 2012 #10

    cdjohnston

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    Hey Hayden. There is a very special ratio for the standard 225L barrel to wine. The oak surface-area contact to wine is ideal for about 1.5 to 2 years of aging the barrel. Is there any way of asking dad to doing at least a half-ton of fruit? Enough to fill a barrel and keep enough top-up juice to last the couple years? OK, if not - readon.

    It is very important (especially for Pinot Noir) that you keep the headspace at zero to age properly otherwise your VA (volatile acidity = acetic acid = vinegar) starts to form. Pinot Noir hates unnecessary oxygen input as it ages.

    If you do not have the volume for 225L barrel, a carboy with oak inserts (i like sticks) will work well for aroma and texture - add them and taste at three weeks and six weeks and determine when you want to remove.

    Oak tannins from your inserts do many things for you - it helps preserve color, and aroma and has some antioxidant properties. make sure your SO2 is up and just let it age in an anerobic environment.

    In barrel, expect a loss of about 10ppm / month of SO2.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2012
  11. Apr 3, 2012 #11

    Boatboy24

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    Hayden,

    I started this hobby just a couple weeks ago and thought it would be cool to have one (or more) small oak barrels for aging. I changed my mind. As others have mentioned, the barrels can be expensive in smaller sizes. The other thing I learned is that they can be kind of high maintenance - especially if they are not being used regularly. I ended up going with a more economical option - oak cubes in what is called an oak infusion tube. It's basically a stainless steel tube full of holes with a piece of fishing line attached. It just hangs in the carboy with the line sticking out. Very simple.

    Jim
     
  12. Apr 3, 2012 #12

    ibglowin

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    I think you made a good decision as your just starting out. Very high quality 6 gallon Hungarian oak barrels can be purchased for ~$145 and they really should be kept full at all times. When you are sure your at that level they will we ready for you. They really do make a huge difference in bringing out the varietal character in your wines (especially kit wines) through controlled oxidation and concentration through evaporation. You really don't even need the infusion tube. Most of us just toss the beans in and remove when racking.
     
  13. Apr 3, 2012 #13

    Rocky

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    Hayden, another thing to be aware of vis-a-vis oak barrels and oak added to carboys is the "Angel's share" of the wine that you lose in the barrel. If you are intending to end up with 12 gallons of wine, you will need to start with about 13 gallons or possibly more.
     
  14. Apr 3, 2012 #14

    hayden

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    All this is great information, So glad I decided to make an account here rather than continuing to search the web blindly!
     

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