Oat Barrel Wine Agining Newbie

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Bianco Nero

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Hi all,
I'm in the process of making my homemade wine (White Resling and Red Syrah). I was thinking of aging in oak barrels that were used for whiskey in the past. Are there any resources to help guide me through this process? From gaining , to care and maintenance etc?
 

winemaker81

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There are many resources available. MoreWine! is one that has numerous high quality manuals are an excellent price! (free)


Do a lot of research before buying a barrel. I'm not trying to scare you off; rather, you are best served by having in-depth knowledge so you make informed choices that are good for you.

One point beginners need to understand is that new oak flavors the wine strongly and the wine typically cannot be stored for long. For small barrels, that could be as little as 4 weeks.

OTOH, a 60 gallon barrel has a much different volume/surface area ratio than a 6 gallon barrel, so wine can be stored much longer. Neutral barrels (aged 3+ years, having little or no remaining oak character) have an infinite storage time.

Also consider that the wine experiences evaporation through the wood. The "angel's share" (as it's called in the bourbon industry) must be accounted for. My barrels are 65 54 liter (14.25 US gallon), and evaporate about 10% of the total volume per year. I start out with 16 gallons of wine so I'll have enough for monthly topup.
 
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Bianco Nero

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There are many resources available. MoreWine! is one that has numerous high quality manuals are an excellent price! (free)


Do a lot of research before buying a barrel. I'm not trying to scare you off; rather, you are best served by having in-depth knowledge so you make informed choices that are good for you.

One point beginners need to understand is that new oak flavors the wine strongly and the wine typically cannot be stored for long. For small barrels, that could be as little as 4 weeks.

OTOH, a 60 gallon barrel has a much different volume/surface area ratio than a 6 gallon barrel, so wine can be stored much longer. Neutral barrels (aged 3+ years, having little or no remaining oak character) have an infinite storage time.

Also consider that the wine experiences evaporation through the wood. The "angel's share" (as it's called in the bourbon industry) must be accounted for. My barrels are 65 liter (14.25 US gallon), and evaporate about 10% of the total volume per year. I start out with 16 gallons of wine so I'll have enough for monthly topup.
This is great information. Thank you. I'll need to educate myself on the topic, as I was not aware of most of your points above.
 

JustinTG

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I had a very similar question last year and got some good info from members here. The TLDR though is that i had bourbon barrels but didn't want the bourbon flavor and wound up transferring to glass after 4 months.

 

winemaker81

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FYI, I used OxiFresh to clean my barrels between wines last November. As the name implies, it's an oxygen based barrel cleaner. It seems to have done well, so I'll be using it again before moving my 2021 wines into barrels.
 

winemaker81

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Since this topic is about barrels, I would like to clarify one point. Will it greatly affect the taste of the wine if I aged it in a glass jar in the basement? Thanks!
Aging in glass or stainless steel affects the aroma and flavor by NOT affecting the aroma and flavor, e.g., glass and steel cause no changes in the wine.

Aging in any barrel concentrates the aroma and flavor as water/alcohol evaporate through the wood, leaving all other constituents behind. As more wine is added to replace the loss due to evaporation, the aroma and flavor become more concentrated.

Aging in new(er) barrels or adding oak adjuncts (chips, cubes, staves, spirals, etc.) contribute oak flavor and aroma.

My barrels are "neutral" (old enough to not contribute oak flavor and aroma) so I add oak cubes to produce an effect similar to a newer barrel.
 

ericsp

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How many gallons of wine do you plan on making?

My cousin and I have been making wine for about 10 years on and off. After a great deal of research from this forum and speaking with others we decided against it. We never make enough wine. We consider 70-80 gallons to be the point where we might consider it. You have the cost of the barrel and risk of over oaking if your barrel is too small. It's not to say it can't be done but you also have to realize a lot of evaporation takes place and wine will be needed for top off .

Like Winemaker81 mentioned, hobbyists have many options to still get that oak flavor. You can always experiment down the road with small barrels.
 

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