Stir wine while barrel aging?

Discussion in 'General Wine Making Forum' started by Martin Siebring, Apr 18, 2019.

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  1. Apr 18, 2019 #1

    Martin Siebring

    Martin Siebring

    Martin Siebring

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    Hi,

    I have two 59-gallon neutral oak barrels filled with a blend of Cab, Merlot and Petite. My wife made some long cheesecloth "teabags" with glass marbles in the bottom and oak spheres. I have 2 of these teabags in each barrel. My question is this: Should I be gently stirring the wine periodically to distribute the flavors coming out of the oak? The oak has only been in there for about 6 weeks so far.

    - Martin
     
  2. Apr 18, 2019 #2

    Johnd

    Johnd

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    I don't think you need to stir your barrel, in fact, the less you open it up, the better off it may be. No need letting any air in there, or stirring up any sediment that has settled to the bottom. The wine will get well mixed when you rack it out of the barrel into your pre-bottling vessel.

    It'll be interesting to see what practices other folks use............
     
  3. Apr 18, 2019 #3

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

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    IMO I wouldn't think it needs stirred either. The heavy concentrations of oak given off by the spheres will mix with the rest of the wine. Similar to wine in a new barrel, the wine in contact with the staves will mix with the rest. The only time it might make sense is prior to tasting to get a balance of the wine in the barrel.
     
  4. Apr 18, 2019 #4

    sdelli

    sdelli

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    Probably will get stirred when you add kmeta as well
     
  5. Apr 19, 2019 #5

    Martin Siebring

    Martin Siebring

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    So now I have a related question. How frequently should I top-off the barrels? I'm losing a lot more to evaporation than I would have ever imagined. It is taking about 1 quart per week to keep both barrels full. Should I be doing this more frequently to keep the headspace at the absolute minimum, or is it better to leave it undisturbed for longer periods?
     
  6. Apr 19, 2019 #6

    Johnd

    Johnd

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    Undisturbed longer is my method, though when first filling a brand new barrel, I top frequently til the initial guzzling slows. After that, once a month topping, sulfite as needed.
     
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  7. Apr 19, 2019 #7

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

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    My method is shortly after I get the wine in the barrel I'll sulfite it to 65-75 ppm knowing it will be in there for a while and the sulfite will get bound faster then in glass. As far as topping up it's probably 3-4 week intervals.
     
  8. Apr 22, 2019 #8

    Martin Siebring

    Martin Siebring

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    Speaking of sulphite, any rough ideas on how much I should expect to add and how often? I hit it with 50 ppm just after filling the barrels about a month ago. The plan right now is to bottle in January 2020. This is my first rodeo with aging in barrels.
     
  9. Apr 22, 2019 #9

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

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    you really need to have the ability to test. The 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons every 3 months doesn't apply to barrels.
     
  10. Apr 23, 2019 #10

    Martin Siebring

    Martin Siebring

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    Right, I have a tester and will test it, I was just looking for a starting point. Do people test weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.?

    And can anybody shed more light on why you only top monthly or so? Thinking purely about the surface area of the wine, it seems like topping more frequently would be beneficial. Does amount of air introduced by removing the bung and topping more frequently outweigh the benefit of having overall less air in the barrels?
     
  11. Apr 24, 2019 #11

    Johnd

    Johnd

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    Personally, I top and test every 4 - 6 weeks, adjusting sulfite when needed. Other than that, I try not to open the barrel any more than necessary.
     

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