Wine Barrels

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Old Tymer

Aug 27, 2008
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Hi Everyone,
Does anyone have experience using wine barrels? I have 3 which I am reconditioning (Shaving and re-toasting) One is 3 years old the others 10. Now I Know both (esp the 10yr) will impart very little flavor to the wine, but will allow for micro-oxidation which is good for wine. I am planning on using some oak chips to give the wine the flavor when in the barrel. Has anyone done this before?

I know that used barrels are fairly cheap ($110) so does anyone have any pointers on re-toasting, esp what kind of wood to use when burning?

Also, How about cleaning and sanitize the barrels after I shave them? What is the best way to do it? Do Re-toast before sanitizing or after?

Another question is does anyone have experience using parafin wax? Some barrels leak at the heads so putting some parafin in their will seal it but does this wax put any flavors into the wine?

Thanks, ideas thoughts and comments would be great.
I do some work for a wine barrel factory. They use a gas fire for the toasting, what the guide for light, medium, or dark toast is I don't know but I do know that it will make the flavors different.

The oak chips in the barrel will give the oak flavor. In fact you might like it better as you can use whatever oak chips you want, which will alter the flavor. I caution you to go lightly with oak -- it's easier to add more but tough to take it back out. My sister & hubby have a chardonnay they over-oaked. Nothing they've tried makes it drinkable. :(

I haven't done a barrel in years. There was a product BaroKleen (not sure of spelling) that was a mixture of citric acid, sulfite, and a few other things. If that isn't available you can hunt the net for similar choices.

If you haven't done anything with barrels before, the first thing to do is make sure they're water tight. If they're not, keeping filling 'em with water until they soak up. And when not in use keep 'em full of clean water so they don't dry out.

No clue on the parafin. You might hunt for barrel manufacturers and ask them.
Maybe this is a dumb question, but is re-toasting the barrel necessary? Wouldn't you achieve the same result by toasting the oak cubes/chips instead?
Maybe this is a dumb question, but is re-toasting the barrel necessary? Wouldn't you achieve the same result by toasting the oak cubes/chips instead?
If I don't retoast the barrel, bacteria might remain on the barrel staves. If I toast the barrel some off flavors may be put into the wood but the bacteria will definatley be killed. Thats what I am assuming anyway from some internet research. Also the chips and cubes come pre-toasted in different flavors.
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You have to toast the barrels, it brings some of the sugars and flavors to the surface where your spirits can absorb it.

When I was a boy we had a neighbor who's granddad had stirred his whiskey with a green hickory stick, the whiskey turned out with a green tint and had a taste of hickory, at first he thought he ruined it but later he decided he liked it and that became that family's traditional whiskey, a slight green color and a hint of hickory.

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