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WineXpert Recommendation on long to age in barrel

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jasonclick

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So I purchased a few things from eBay a few weeks ago when they had their 20% off everything. One was a wine kit- "Winexpert Eclipse California Lodi Ranch II". The other was a new 5 gallon oak barrel (see attached photos). On step 4 of the kit, it says "STEP 4 DAY 33-54 - POLISHING RACK/AGING". At this point, I was going to rack into the 5 gallon barrel.

Questions:
1. How long should I age in the barrel? I've read a few places you can "over oak" if you leave too long?
2. After aging in barrel, should I transfer to another carboy to continue aging or bottle at that point and let age in the bottle?

Thanks for any help. I'm new to wine making so this may be obvious to some but its all new to me!
 

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Johnd

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So I purchased a few things from eBay a few weeks ago when they had their 20% off everything. One was a wine kit- "Winexpert Eclipse California Lodi Ranch II". The other was a new 5 gallon oak barrel (see attached photos). On step 4 of the kit, it says "STEP 4 DAY 33-54 - POLISHING RACK/AGING". At this point, I was going to rack into the 5 gallon barrel.

Questions:
1. How long should I age in the barrel? I've read a few places you can "over oak" if you leave too long?
2. After aging in barrel, should I transfer to another carboy to continue aging or bottle at that point and let age in the bottle?

Thanks for any help. I'm new to wine making so this may be obvious to some but its all new to me!
I typically don't put wine into a barrel until it is clear. In this case particularly, that's probably a good idea. In a new barrel, it is easy to over oak the wine, most wines won't need to sit in there more than 4-5 weeks. In that scenario, you'd be racking the wine back out of the barrel before the end of your polishing/racking/aging period of time. My advice would be to get the wine nice and clear, then go into your barrel for a little aging / oaking, tasting it regularly to determine the amount of oak you desire.

I've done the LR II Cab several times, it definitely needs some time to develop, so clearing before oaking won't add any time to the "ready to drink" era of your wine. Once oaked and back in a carboy, if you can wait to bottle until the wine is near a year of age, it'll be much less likely to drop sediment in your bottles.
 

Boatboy24

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I don't put wine in my barrels until its clear. Less mess to deal with that way. For kits, anywhere from 3-6 months. Usually, 3-4 months is plenty, but sometimes I get lazy. :i New barrels of that size should probably hold a wine no more than 4 weeks or so. Otherwise, you risk over-oaking. Best to start two kits now (maybe three). Then you've got enough wine to keep that barrel full for a couple months. You need to keep the barrel full, so you want to have enough wine on hand to do that.

I do tend to age a little longer after it comes out of the barrel. At this point, I might add some finishing tannin or more oak (my barrels are neutral). Another month or two is about what most kits get.
 

NorCal

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The rule of thumb is a week for every gallon your barrel will hold for a new barrel; 5 gallons, 5 weeks. Just a starting point to give you an idea. The real test is how it tastes, so get a wine theif and be prepared to taste it each week.

The part that is kind of a pain is now caring for the barrel, once you take the wine out and don’t have another to put in it. You can go wet, aciduated, SO2 water or dry with sulfur gas. Either way it needs to be maintained, if you want to use it again for wine.
 

jasonclick

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Thanks everyone... sounds like the consensus would be to keep aging until its clear and then transfer to barrel. Let sit in barrel for about 5 weeks and then start tasting until its good.

By way, the barrel I've got several uses for after this wine. Wine is something new for me. I'm mainly into beer and other things. I plan on keeping this barrel filled with different liquids.
 

Johnd

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Thanks everyone... sounds like the consensus would be to keep aging until its clear and then transfer to barrel. Let sit in barrel for about 5 weeks and then start tasting until its good.

By way, the barrel I've got several uses for after this wine. Wine is something new for me. I'm mainly into beer and other things. I plan on keeping this barrel filled with different liquids.
Sounds like a good plan, consider starting your tasting sooner than 5 weeks, like a little taste at 3, taste at 4, etc.......... it can come on quick in a small barrel..........
 

pillswoj

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My first wine in my 20L barrel was well oaked after 3 weeks, hoping the oak fades with some aging.
 

baron4406

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I've over-oaked (just a tad) wines before and after 6 months little to no oak was tasted, if you bottle age for a year I doubt you would have any effect of a slight over oaking. I have one batch of Mixed black that i REALLY over oaked(underestimated the power of Stavin oak cubes) and i just tasted a bottle that's spend 5 months in the bottle and its still a little "oaky" but not too bad.
 

baron4406

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I've always heard you should never put kit wine on the same barrel as non-kit wine that has gone thru MLF?
 

sour_grapes

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I've always heard you should never put kit wine on the same barrel as non-kit wine that has gone thru MLF?
Yup, that is the wisdom. Explanation is that kits are stabilized/adjusted with malic acid; if you perform MLF on them, accidentally or not, they will be way off in acid.

Another piece of information is that you do not ever want to have MLF bacteria chomp on potassium sorbate. This will ruin the batch.
 
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