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Wine loss during oak barrel aging?

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VSR-Rich

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Hi all,

I’m a novice and an enthusiast home wine maker. This is my 2nd year making wine and looking to experiment with oak barrel aging.

I have a Cab Sauv going to MLF now, and when some, I plan to barrel age. My carboy is 6 gallons, topped to the neck. Originally I wanted to buy a 6 gallon barrel from Vidai (Hungarian Oak), but lately I’ve been thinking a 5 gallon might be better due to natural wine evaporation.

Being it’s a small barrel (5 or 6 gallon), I plan to age several months for fear of over oak.

Question: Roughly, how much wine can I expect to lose per month in an oak barrel? Should I buy a 5 or 6 gallon barrel if my carboy is 6 gallon? If the loss is high, I will probably buy a 5 gallon. If the loss is minimal, I can buy a 6 gallon and plan to top off with store bought wine of same varietal.

Appreciate any advice you guys can give.
 

salcoco

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either size will work. I would lean toward the 5 gallon unit and then top up with my own wine. you can expect upto a cup a month of the "angel's share" in the beginning it will be higher then it taper off.
 

Ajmassa

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And the rate it’s going for my 1st (8gal) I’m looking at over a bottles worth after 1 month. So definitely I’d suggest the 5 gal as well.
Rule of thumb for new smaller barrels is 1 week for every gallon before ya start checking the oak and decide to remove. Doubling each batch till neutral.
Sulphites go quicker too. *1/4tsp per 5 gal per month.

*edit - thanks @stickman
 
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VSR-Rich

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AJ, thanks much for the feedback. 5 gallon barrel is definitely the way to go here then. A bottle loss a month is significant.
 

Ajmassa

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AJ, thanks much for the feedback. 5 gallon barrel is definitely the way to go here then. A bottle loss a month is significant.
I’ll top it up tonight and let ya know how much I used. Probably lots of variables at play tho. I filled the barrel Oct 5th. Had some leakage but that amount was minimal. And the room is typically pretty humid too. I need to get a de-humidifier.
And maybe since it’s the 1st fill the oak is allowing more evaporation to occur than it will in the future. But even if your loss was minimal I’d still go for the 5.
 

VSR-Rich

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Pills, great idea and thanks for the suggestion. Originally I was thinking of racking the extra into a 1 gallon carboy, but would need to rack it to smaller bottles as I topped up.
 

Ajmassa

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AJ, was this after 1 month?
No. I topped early because to the eye it looked like a lot more was needed. I filled it on the 5th. So not even 3 weeks. (100mL includes the wine that shot all over the wall when tightening the rings too)
But still- @salcoco’s estimation of about a cup a month seems pretty accurate. Regardless I still think 5gal would be better for a 6gal batch. I also took the advice from @pillswoj and bottled a few 350’s to use for topping. And Just stuck a vaccuvin stopper on the bottle and pumped for the mean time.
 

VSR-Rich

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After reading advices here and giving this a careful thought, I went ahead and purchased the 5.3 (20L) Vadai barrel. I figure there will be some loss during transfer because I plan to minimize lees transfer. If I got a 6.1 gallon Vadai and it comes 10% larger, then I’m really in trouble without excessive use of marbles. After transfer to my 5.3 gallon, I can still fill a 1/2 gallon carboy to top off during barrel aging.

Another question - any harm or risks if I used slightly more SO2 than the recommended for the wines’s PH during aging? I read SO2 loss can be quick, so if I use slightly more SO2, theoretically the wine would be more protected? I would only transfer to barrel after MLF is done in the glass carboy - and it’s looking good so far after 1 week.
 

Johnd

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After reading advices here and giving this a careful thought, I went ahead and purchased the 5.3 (20L) Vadai barrel. I figure there will be some loss during transfer because I plan to minimize lees transfer. If I got a 6.1 gallon Vadai and it comes 10% larger, then I’m really in trouble without excessive use of marbles. After transfer to my 5.3 gallon, I can still fill a 1/2 gallon carboy to top off during barrel aging.

Another question - any harm or risks if I used slightly more SO2 than the recommended for the wines’s PH during aging? I read SO2 loss can be quick, so if I use slightly more SO2, theoretically the wine would be more protected? I would only transfer to barrel after MLF is done in the glass carboy - and it’s looking good so far after 1 week.
Nothing wrong with a lofty dose at first. I've put a double dose in there when a wine first goes in, and don't do anything but topping up after month 1, then check the SO2 and top at the two month mark.
 

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