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Why use oak chips

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arcticsid

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Would anyone mind telling me a little bit about using oak chips. Have heard about this in some of the discussions but still don't quite understand the purpose. Are they only used in the primary? How much to use? Do they need to be sterilized first? And most curiously, why?
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Troy
 

Benjo's Mom

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I used them in a primary with the intent of giving the wine some nice mellow, oaky tones as though it were aged in a barrel. They came in a sanitized package, so I just threw them in. Won't know how it worked until the wine is ready in another year or more.
 

Wade E

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Chips and dust are used in primare fermentation as they have a lot of contact with your wine so dont need much time in there. Cubes and spirals dont have as much surface are so more time is required to oak your wine. The amount of oak used depends on which product you want to use and how much wine you want to oak.
 

arcticsid

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So do you leave them in ther for the entire amount of time in the primary? So far I am making my batches in a 5 gallon carboy, so I would be talking about this amount. And what about sterilizing them?
Still Learning
Troy
 

Wade E

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They do not need sterilization. The dust and chips stay in for the entire time that the wine is in the primary and then racked off when transferring to carboy.
 

arcticsid

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While my curiosity is running, why oak? So far what I have been doing seems to be working, but like "Mom" said the end result may not be known for a while. I live in Alaska where we have tons of spruce and birch would any one of these have any viable properties suitable for wine?
troy
 

cpfan

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Troy:

As with many wine making questions, I would suggest getting your oak from a wine making supply shop. That guarantees the right oak and that it has been aged properly.

Kits generally have you put the oak in the primary. Oak dust and chips are probably best just in the primary. But there are other oak products that people use in the carboy. These are oak staves and oak cubes (sometimes called oak beans). When I have done kits that contained oak cubes (or when I replaced the oak dust with cubes), I put the cubes in the primary then rinsed them before adding to the carboy. Be careful doing this as you can over-oak your wine this way. Yes, thats the voice of experience. However, one of our friends loved that oakiness.

Steve
 

Wade E

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When we sat oak we mean White Oak and there are a few different white oaks. There is French, American, and Hungarian. These woods have tannins in them and slightly different flavor profiles. I strongly urge you to not play around with using different woods as some will leach very undesirable flavors into your wine while others will leach poison into your wine. Do not go out a use white oak from a lumber co. either as these most likely have been treated at some point or another so as that bugs will not start chewing on the wood while it is in their inventory. There are some woods that can be used other then oak though but I dont have a list of them. I know that Italian Amarone is sometimes barreled in Cherry casks.
 

cpfan

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There was a post on one of the forums earlier this year from somebody who made his own oak chips. I believe that he used red oak. That wine was thrown out. Don't take the chance.

BTW, I strongly recommend that everything you use for wine making be intended for wine making. It increases the chance of success.

Steve
 

Luc

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Trying to answer: why oak.

Oak imparts tannin and flavors to the wine.
just like they used to store and transport wine
in oak barrels in the past. It gives some wines
a bit extra.

Do not oak whites or blush wines. It does not suit most
of them well.

You can also oak a wine with chips when the wine has finished.
Then when it is aging add some oak chips and do continuing
tasting experiments.
When you have the desired oak level, rack the wine from the chips.

Last thing you can do is make an oak concentrate
by adding chips to pure wodka.
I described on my web-log last yeasr:

http://wijnmaker.blogspot.com/2007/11/eiken-extract-oak-extract.html

You can add this extract to a finished wine to test
if oaking suits it. Then when you like it you can add
chips to the aging wine.

Luc
 

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