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justsipn

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Can they be reused?

I’m making my first kit. It’s a Chilean Malbec. It came with chips to use during fermentation. I’ve also read on here than people suggest over oaking. So, I thought maybe I would buy some spirals to add while it’s aging.

But, if I buy some, I’m interested in reusing them for other batches.

is that possible?
 

heatherd

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I would add chips during primary fermentation and spirals during bulk aging.
 

winemaker81

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Keep in mind that the "goodness" in the oak is a finite resource, e.g., it will get used up with time. If you use a spiral for a short period of time, say a month or 2, you'll get more out of it in a second batch -- but you won't get as much as batch #1 will used up a fair amount of the "goodness". I don't know what the lifespan of a spiral is, but you'll reach the point where you get little or nothing from it.

For instance, I used 6 oz oak cubes in a 54 liter neutral barrel for 3 months. Took 'em out, dried and sulfited, then put all 6 oz in a 5 gallon carboy. The recommended dosage for a carboy is 2 oz. After 3 months, the second wine had some oak character, but less than 2 oz of new cubes would have provided.

I've heard of sanding staves and re-toasting, but have no direct experience. With spirals, you can sand the outside down, but trying to sand inside the spirals may be far more work than it's worth.
 

justsipn

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Keep in mind that the "goodness" in the oak is a finite resource, e.g., it will get used up with time. If you use a spiral for a short period of time, say a month or 2, you'll get more out of it in a second batch -- but you won't get as much as batch #1 will used up a fair amount of the "goodness". I don't know what the lifespan of a spiral is, but you'll reach the point where you get little or nothing from it.

For instance, I used 6 oz oak cubes in a 54 liter neutral barrel for 3 months. Took 'em out, dried and sulfited, then put all 6 oz in a 5 gallon carboy. The recommended dosage for a carboy is 2 oz. After 3 months, the second wine had some oak character, but less than 2 oz of new cubes would have provided.

I've heard of sanding staves and re-toasting, but have no direct experience. With spirals, you can sand the outside down, but trying to sand inside the spirals may be far more work than it's worth.
Thanks for the replies. I had assumed the effectiveness of the oak would diminish but didn't know how fast (how many batches) and also wondering how you prevent mold or spoilage between batches. So, if I would take them out and spray or soak them in K Meta, that would take care of that fear?

Another question. I know I wouldn't want to use Oak that I can get from the lumber yard because it's been processed with chemicals. But, I have several oak trees on my place that I cut limbs out of every once in a while. Does anyone make their own oak cubes and toast them at home to use? Is that not advisable? I would obviously dry them down, debark them and sand before toasting them.
 

winemaker81

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A barrel is considered "neutral" (provides little or no oak character) after 3 or 4 years. The barrel is still useful, as it provides evaporation through the wood so the wine benefits from concentration and micro-oxygenation. My barrels are 11 years old -- I add oak cubes to provide oak character, and while the barrels are French oak, I can add American or Hungarian (or mix) to produce different flavors. In my case, I wanted neutral barrels.

I air dried the cubes on paper towels and soaked for a minute in K-meta before re-using. However, although my experiment was a success, I probably won't repeat it. My re-use of oak adjuncts will be in the smoker, as the results in the 2nd wine were merely ok. I like a heavier oak character, so I'll use new adjuncts to better ensure I get the result I want.

A couple of points on oak:
  • Oak for barrels (and adjuncts) is aged at least 1 year, and I'm reliably told 2+ years is better, so if you try this plan for the future.
  • Specific varieties of oak are used for barrels. Other varieties can produce off smells & flavors -- one was described as "cat urine". Unless that flavor profile is desired, be 100% sure you know what kind of oak grows in your yard. ;)
 

hounddawg

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A barrel is considered "neutral" (provides little or no oak character) after 3 or 4 years. The barrel is still useful, as it provides evaporation through the wood so the wine benefits from concentration and micro-oxygenation. My barrels are 11 years old -- I add oak cubes to provide oak character, and while the barrels are French oak, I can add American or Hungarian (or mix) to produce different flavors. In my case, I wanted neutral barrels.

I air dried the cubes on paper towels and soaked for a minute in K-meta before re-using. However, although my experiment was a success, I probably won't repeat it. My re-use of oak adjuncts will be in the smoker, as the results in the 2nd wine were merely ok. I like a heavier oak character, so I'll use new adjuncts to better ensure I get the result I want.

A couple of points on oak:
  • Oak for barrels (and adjuncts) is aged at least 1 year, and I'm reliably told 2+ years is better, so if you try this plan for the future.
  • Specific varieties of oak are used for barrels. Other varieties can produce off smells & flavors -- one was described as "cat urine". Unless that flavor profile is desired, be 100% sure you know what kind of oak grows in your yard. ;)
SMOKER? did i hear food, when do we eat :h
Dawg
 
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