Question about barrel tasting

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

BI81

Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
11
My wife and I were talking about a tasting we did at Del Dotto years ago, which was all from barrels, and it got me thinking/wondering.

As we all know excessive oxygen exposure after fermentation is the enemy, so how do wineries that have multiple barrel tastings on a daily basis prevent the wines from becoming oxidized?

I’m assuming they top up daily, but I’d still think that removing the bung and pulling samples multiple times a day would expose the wine to a significant amount of oxygen??
 

cmason1957

CRS Sufferer
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
3,446
Reaction score
2,473
Last time I was at a winery for a barrel tasting (make that drinking) they were particular about which barrels they took samples from. My guess is they use different barrels all the time, so they don't expose them to to much air.

My bonus son married into a winery from Hopland, California, Mendecino County. The day before the wedding they invited all from out of town to a tour of the winery. First step as we walked in the door, a glass was placed into our hand. Into the barrel room for a few samples from a few different barrels for me the interesting part was a Zin or Cab, but from a new barrel, a once used and a twice used barrel. Next we went to the room where all the Stainless tanks are, very large tanks. They explained how to operate the sample valve and said help yourself. It quickly became a drinking, not a tasting. Luckily my daughter was pregnant, built in designated driver.
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
2,923
Reaction score
2,800
Location
Placer County, CA
If you look at oxygen exposure as surface area x time, the amount of exposure is pretty small, assuming the barrel is topped up afterward.
 

Johnd

Large Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
5,638
Location
S Louisiana
I’ve done the same barrel tasting at Del Dotto several times, it’s fabulous. Asked the same question when we were there, they do top the barrels daily.
 

DoctorCAD

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
1,789
Reaction score
520
The barrel tasting I did was amazing. The winemaker pulled wine thief's from a rack without sanitizing, mixed wines from different barrels in a pitcher and when the tasting was done just poured it back into one of the barrels. This was at a very well known high-end winery with a well known winemaker in Napa.

That was when I realized that I realized that sanitizing, oxygen contact and blending were were not as important as I ever thought. Moderation is the key to all things.
 

mainshipfred

Junior Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Messages
3,537
Reaction score
2,154
I was going to respond to this thread earlier but thought I would just get myself in trouble or cause a debate. I do a lot of barrel tastings and help out out at a few local wineries. They don't ignore sanitation practices or O2 exposure but to the degree we practice they are somewhat more lax, and that's as far as I'll go. Still don't want to cause a debate, LOL!
 

Boatboy24

No longer a newbie, but still clueless.
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
12,818
Reaction score
8,180
I was going to respond to this thread earlier but thought I would just get myself in trouble or cause a debate. I do a lot of barrel tastings and help out out at a few local wineries. They don't ignore sanitation practices or O2 exposure but to the degree we practice they are somewhat more lax, and that's as far as I'll go. Still don't want to cause a debate, LOL!
One of the things I think I'm finally figuring out is that the pros pay a lot more attention to chemistry early in the process. As a result, the wine is better able to "take care of itself" when it comes to keeping bugs at bay. Kinda like having a good, strong immune system, I guess.
 

Johnd

Large Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,024
Reaction score
5,638
Location
S Louisiana
I was going to respond to this thread earlier but thought I would just get myself in trouble or cause a debate. I do a lot of barrel tastings and help out out at a few local wineries. They don't ignore sanitation practices or O2 exposure but to the degree we practice they are somewhat more lax, and that's as far as I'll go. Still don't want to cause a debate, LOL!
I personally agree, most every barrel tasting I’ve done, and I’ve done a bunch, the wine thief is stored in vodka to keep it clean. Barrel to barrel without sanitizing is no big deal, IMHO, and I’ve never seen anyone set the thief down and then use it. They typically don’t touch it to your glass when dispensing wine into it, I suspect they stay pretty clean. Over the years, I’ve become a lot more laissez faire about oxygen and sulfite, but am still cognizant of both.
 

Ajmassa

Just a guy
Joined
Oct 25, 2016
Messages
3,427
Reaction score
2,813
One of the things I think I'm finally figuring out is that the pros pay a lot more attention to chemistry early in the process. As a result, the wine is better able to "take care of itself" when it comes to keeping bugs at bay. Kinda like having a good, strong immune system, I guess.
Yes! I’ve been preaching this for a while now. (Albeit without much science to back it up—More of theory. Though I do remember quoting a winemakermag article once relating to o2 exposure and color.)
But yes, pretty much exactly what your saying. That getting accustomed to reasonable o2 exposure can be beneficial. Compared to a wine in a protective bubble that when exposed to some o2 would be more of a shock to its system with negative affects. Wanna be able to take a punch
 

BI81

Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
32
Reaction score
11
Ha yes @cmason1957 every barrel tasting I've been to would be better described as a barrel drinking.

All good points, it's a relatively small surface area being exposed and with daily top ups the exposure is limited.

Assuming a place like Del Dotto is doing somewhere in the range of say 10,000 cases a year (this is a WAG, I have no idea how many they actually produce) that's 400 barrels per vintage, and if they're barrel aging for 2 years they have up to 800 barrels to sample from, so being selective & rotating tastings could limit the samples to once maybe twice a month per barrel which makes more sense when I think about it this way.

It also makes me feel somewhat over paranoid when I'm frantically running around the house trying to finish racking as quick as possible to shave off that extra 8 seconds of oxygen exposure.
 

Latest posts

Group Builder
Top