Sulfite addition in barrel

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Geno4vino

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I am bulk aging a Merlot from a kit, pH=3.4, TA=7. Been aging in a 20 L oak barrel since November 2014. I racked in April, and at that time added 1/4 tsp KBMS. When I put into the barrel, I decided since pH was low to go with an additional 1/8 tsp instead of the 1/4 tsp.

Since then I've been using a Vinemetrica SC-300 unit to measure SO2. I measured SO2 in December and got about 10 ppm.

Starting in December I've added nearly 2 grams, and just measured SO2 again and its about 8 ppm. I always stir after addition (I dissolve in ~50ml of spring water) and I stir before sampling. I've checked the meter and its ok.

Before I add anymore, I'd like to know what's going on? I know some of the sulfite is bound up in the wine, but is the fact that's in a barrel promoting more of this binding?
 

ibglowin

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Gino,

The wonderful thing about barrels is they leak O2 into your wine all day, all night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This smooths out the wine, softens the tannins and eats your free SO2 like there is no tomorrow. The smaller the barrel the larger the wine to wood ratio so the higher your losses will be compared to a 220L barrel. You have the right tool to accurately test for SO2. Trust in it and add to it as necessary based on the wines pH.
 

Geno4vino

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A 5 gallon barrel? How frequently and how much do you top? Perhaps it is breathing a bit too much?
Thanks - yea, its a 20 L so about 5.3 gal. And I have been topping it off almost weekly..

Gene
 

Geno4vino

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Gino,

The wonderful thing about barrels is they leak O2 into your wine all day, all night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This smooths out the wine, softens the tannins and eats your free SO2 like there is no tomorrow. The smaller the barrel the larger the wine to wood ratio so the higher your losses will be compared to a 220L barrel. You have the right tool to accurately test for SO2. Trust in it and add to it as necessary based on the wines pH.
Thanks! Excellent point about the wine to wood ratio!

So you think keep adding it until I hit the target of about 30 ppm? I guess I should let it sit at 10ppm too long?

I am going to let it sit here for about 6 months since it is only the second batch in this barrel?

Thanks again!

Gene
 

ibglowin

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I would use the sulfite calculator on Winemaker Magazine's website. Just enter your current SO2 level, your volume of wine and the target SO2 and it will calculate the amount required. Add it in and then forget about it for a month so, then retest. Rinse, repeat…….

Be careful 6 months in a small barrel like that for only the second batch…….. You could have some Chateau Plywood on your hands!
 

Geno4vino

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Thanks Mike,

Yep, that's the calculator I've been using. And I'll definitely pull it out of the barrel soon!

Gene
 

Treeman

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Gene,

What's your humidity level like in your storage room? If it is low, You might want to add some humidity to see if it slows down your barrel evaporation.
 

Geno4vino

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Gene,

What's your humidity level like in your storage room? If it is low, You might want to add some humidity to see if it slows down your barrel evaporation.
Good point. I am working in my basement, and the reading I have (not sure I believe it) is 78%rH. I should probably invest in a decent humidity meter. Temperature 66F. Stays pretty constant year round -maybe up to 68 F in summer.
 
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