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Oak ... but not too much?

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REDRUM

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Hi all. I will be making 4 small (30L) batches of red wine from grapes this year ... in ascending order of fruit weight:
-grenache
-nero d'avola
-primitivo/zinfandel
-shiraz.

I will be fermenting & ageing them in neutral containers but I want to add a bit of oak, particularly for the Primitivo & Shiraz.

I have medium-toast French oak chips. I really want to avoid over-oaking - does anyone have tips as to timing & quantity for adding oak chips? Add to primary ferment, or after pressing?
Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!
 

salcoco

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any oak chips or tannin in primary is for color retention. oak flavor will not carry over.
best to add oak once wine has cleared and ready for bulk aging.not sure of dosage for your small batch but whatever you use taste test periodically will prevent over oaking.
 

meadmaker1

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What is a small batch
For some here 6 gallons is a test kit
How are you going to treat them before adding
How long do you expect to leave them in.
How are you going to put them in. Or how are you going to remove them.
I recommend researching old posts regarding this.
 

heatherd

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Hi all. I will be making 4 small (30L) batches of red wine from grapes this year ... in ascending order of fruit weight:
-grenache
-nero d'avola
-primitivo/zinfandel
-shiraz.

I will be fermenting & ageing them in neutral containers but I want to add a bit of oak, particularly for the Primitivo & Shiraz.

I have medium-toast French oak chips. I really want to avoid over-oaking - does anyone have tips as to timing & quantity for adding oak chips? Add to primary ferment, or after pressing?
Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!
@REDRUM I'd add them in primary. Then you can taste-test after fermentation to see if you want more. They may act sacrificially and not lend much oak flavor, so you'll have a couple of chances to get the oak flavor you want. I haven't measured chips so can't say on quantity.
 

Johnd

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@REDRUM I'd add them in primary. Then you can taste-test after fermentation to see if you want more. They may act sacrificially and not lend much oak flavor, so you'll have a couple of chances to get the oak flavor you want. I haven't measured chips so can't say on quantity.
I agree with @heatherd and offer some additional info to consider. Once you’ve used the chips in primary, the type of oak adjunct you select for flavoring afterwards affects the quality of the flavor. From lowest to highest quality, consider the use of sawdust, chips, beans or cubes, spirals, sticks, spheres, large staves, barrels being top of the heap. Generally, the larger the wood, the slower release and better the flavor.
 

REDRUM

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OK thanks - I am very wary of 'low quality' oaking and don't have the option of maturing in barrel so unless I can get my hands on some decent staves or something I will probably limit the additions to chips during primary and see how it goes.
 

Noontime

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As others have said, the chips in the primary will provide a few different benefits (soften tannins, provide more complex flavors, etc) , but won't add much in oak flavor (if any). We've used the cubes with great success, and they're fairly inexpensive. What I really love about them is you can combine different toasts and woods, and also add more if needed in small doses. There was a study published in Wines & Vines a few years ago, that described the effects of the different barrel alternatives in aging wine (the term oak alternative always seemed wrong to me). The conclusion was that they differ in the rate they release their flavor, and the time it takes for that flavor to integrate well. So powders and chips release all their flavor extremely quickly, and will be quite harsh while the wine is young. The larger the wood, the longer it takes for the flavor to release into the wine, and the smoother that flavor will be.
 

Ajmassa

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OK thanks - I am very wary of 'low quality' oaking and don't have the option of maturing in barrel so unless I can get my hands on some decent staves or something I will probably limit the additions to chips during primary and see how it goes.
Thats my current plan too. Still tossing some chips in primary, but will use stave segments in the demi for oaking. The larger mouth allowing decent sized segments. And would create my own miniature version of those stave tank inserts that are tethered together. (Or bigger version of spirals on fishing line).
This is an interesting detailed article on commercial wineries using oak inserts. https://www.winesandvines.com/features/article/49681/Winemaking-With-Oak-Alternatives
 

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