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Use of K-meta during bulk aging in barrel

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crushday

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If I use K-meta, 1/4 tsp per 5gal, is it totally necessary to "top up" every few weeks in a barrel? My understanding of K-meta is to help preserve the wine against the ill effects of oxygen. Isn't topping up a way to preserve the wine from the ill effects of oxygen?

Last summer, I visited several wineries on a self fashioned wine tour through Washington, Oregon and California. A seasoned vintner, specifically at a winery in California, gave me and my wife a special tour and allowed us to sample aging wine of several different varieties from many different 53 gallon barrels. During the sampling, there was no sanitation effort given to the wine thief, simply grabbed from a shelf, used to sample wine. And, the bungs were removed and replaced without apparent attention to wine levels in the barrel. All of this makes me wonder if topping up is even necessary when K-meta is used correctly.
 

Ajmassa

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Or is kmeta necessary when topping up is correctly used? [emoji6]

I’m actually figuring this out for the first time myself too. I think “the rules” are just to prevent extreme circumstances that would present problems. A little over a month since last topping- my so2 level really didn’t change. But had almost a bottles worth to top up.
I just wouldn’t feel comfortable letting it with go too much headspace regardless of so2. Been there. Done that. Surface growth Not fun.
I topped and gave it a kiss of so2- because really- why risk it? Don’t wanna play the game to find out the threshold because sooner or later I’d find it out!
 
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NorCal

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Wine is protected by SO2, acidity, alcohol, tannin and its enclosure. They work as a team and SO2 is just one of the players. SO2 is not only work to prevent microbes from growing, it also serves as an antioxidant.

If all elements are working to full strength, than you can get away with being less than diligent. But if the total protection system is compromised, then you run the risk of microbial spoilage or oxidation.
 

FTC Wines

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New to barrels, I top off weekly, ok at least 3 times a month. I add K Meta once a month to the barrels, a little less than a 1/8 tsp per 6 gals each month. Been doing this for 3 months now and will break out the SO 2 meter this weekend to see if levels are good. Roy
 

GreginND

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Sulfur dioxide (produced from potassium metabisulfite) is most importantly an antimicrobial agent. It does also have some antioxidant properties. However, it will not prevent a wine from becoming oxidized if it has a large surface area exposed to oxygen. The sulfur will get bound up and used up pretty quickly and not protect it. So, you should ALWAYS top up. I'm sure the wineries have a regular schedule for topping up their barrels.

Regarding the sanitation - fortunately wine is VERY forgiving. It has a high enough alcohol content and high enough acidity that any pathogens harmful to humans cannot live in it. There are some spoilage microbes that can detrimentally affect the quality of the wine to make it undrinkable. That being said, properly sulfited and maintained wine is in many ways self protective. Using a wine thief that is, arguably, clean without using a sanitizer is very unlikely to introduce any quantities of bacteria or microbes that won't be immediately taken care of by the wine. So, personally, I would not worry too much about the wine spoiling and certainly not worry about it becoming harmful to drink. I don't always sanitize everything that touches the wine if I know it is clean and dry.

All that being said, following best sanitation practices is ALWAYS a good thing and we should not become too lax in our winemaking that we do start ending up with problems in our wine.
 

jskulchyk

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HI George. Best of the season to you! I've been using 15 gal barrels for about five years. I keep my post
MLF wine in a barrel for one year usually. Then I rack to 5 gal glass carbs for one year with a rack every 4 months. In barrel I top up each month, almost religiously. I am careful to sanitize the bung each time I top up. I check pH and SO2 every 4 months and add KMeta. In glass, I check pH and SO2 at each rack. I also change the SO2 in the fermlocks for the carbs at each rack. This regimen allows for no other fining and I've not had a batch go off. Keeping each batch in barrel for one year allows me to never let a barrel get dried out. Five racks in total and two years with careful handling allows gravity to fine and no filtering is necessary. It's an uncomplicated system with only one additive needed. And I think it's a safe system, for my wine. Only downside is two years plus bottle aging until I'm pouring myself a glass.
 

crushday

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HI George. Best of the season to you! I've been using 15 gal barrels for about five years. I keep my post
MLF wine in a barrel for one year usually. Then I rack to 5 gal glass carbs for one year with a rack every 4 months. In barrel I top up each month, almost religiously. I am careful to sanitize the bung each time I top up. I check pH and SO2 every 4 months and add KMeta. In glass, I check pH and SO2 at each rack. I also change the SO2 in the fermlocks for the carbs at each rack. This regimen allows for no other fining and I've not had a batch go off. Keeping each batch in barrel for one year allows me to never let a barrel get dried out. Five racks in total and two years with careful handling allows gravity to fine and no filtering is necessary. It's an uncomplicated system with only one additive needed. And I think it's a safe system, for my wine. Only downside is two years plus bottle aging until I'm pouring myself a glass.
Hey, thanks for the info. I like your style...
 

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