WineStix vs. Spirals

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crushday

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I searched for a similar thread but didn’t find anything...

I have been using oak spirals for my entire winemaking career, albeit a comparatively shallow five years to many well respected vintners on this site. I just bulk aged my spring wine and used all my spirals, French heavy. I have been aware of Winestix but never tried them because my sources have left that product more expensive than my old go to.

Well, today that dynamic has changed. I can get a two pack of Winestix for $2 cheaper than comparatively toasted spirals. (For those of you loosing patience, I’m getting to the point...lol)

Who has experience with both products? Any meaningful comparisons you’d like to share?
If you don’t have dual experience, what do you like about your oaking medium?
How about cubes or those round oak balls? (Have a brand name that eludes me right now and too lazy to google it.)

I typically bulk age for a year before the final stage of neutral barrel aging. I use 1 spiral per 6 gallons in bulk and again 1 spiral per 6 gallons during barrel aging.
 

CDrew

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I have mostly used the StaVin cubes. They work well, are easy to measure and at medium toast impart the type of oak taste I like without being harsh. Good calculator on the Stavin site to help decide on dosage and the like. I like about 25% new oak taste. Many, many wineries are using the cubes in their poly tanks.

WineStix are also very good. 1 stick per 5 gallons. Easy. They are also easy to get out of the wine if you don't want to rack-just tie some monofilament fishing line to them and secure to the air lock.

Never used spirals. They have them at Lodi Wine Labs but I've not used.

Those round oak balls are called Xoakers or something like that. I've not tried yet, but plan to at some point.
 

crushday

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@CDrew!! Thanks for the heads up on the StaVin calculator. I had no idea that existed. I ran a calculation on 60 gallons, 25% using beans and that came up with a slight .4 pounds. That paltry amount is a head scratcher...

However, sounds like you’ve used the calculator with satisfaction. Just running the math, using beans would be more cost effective. I’d have to balance that with the extraction challenge at the end of the process. Do you use beans in a barrel?
 

CDrew

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No barrels, so no. Also with the beans, if you feel more oak taste is needed, it's easy to add more. But after over-oaking a significant amount of wine in 2018, I've learned the hard way to be cautious with how much you add. I went to 100% new oak levels, and that's way too much. In un-scientific testing, I like about 20% new oak levels in a lighter wine like Sangiovese, and up to about 35% in Syrah.

But I will say, the Medium Plus that I used in 2018 also has a campfire quality that I do not like. Hence the medium toast only ever since. I'm drinking 2018 here and there, and the Syrah and Petite Sirah have integrated the Medium plus just fine. The Primitivo is drinkable but still too much oak flavor for my taste.

An experiment I may do this next year, is to mix medium and medium plus in the stronger reds like syrah. To get some of the dark toast flavor but not be overwhelmed by it.
 

Ajmassa

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i’ve used both stix and spirals. both french and american at light/med/heavy toast levels. (medium-plus only saw w the french iirc). and hungarian adjuncts i’ve only seen chips and cubes— no stix or spirals.

anyway- from my perspective there was no discernible difference between stix and spirals. (tho i wasn’t doing direct comparisons ever) i think they’re fairly equal despite the extra surface area of spirals. i use them each as x1/per 5-6gal for a full 3-5mos racking period. w fishing line. then would add another or a half if needed. i once overoaked with x2 Am. med. spirals together. So now it’s always 1 at a time for me.
 

winemaker81

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I haven't used spirals, as cubes are significantly cheaper, and as has been mentioned, it's easy to adjust amounts and mix-n-match cube types

In the past I used chips as that was the only product available. In recent years I switched to cubes. The difference is that I can roughly gauge the surface area of cubes, whereas chips are too variable in size.

It took a lot of searching, but I found a reference that suggested 2 oz cubes for 5 gallons. IME that works well, and I have aged wines 4 to 7 months on cubes with good success. Last year I used 6 oz cubes in a 54 liter barrel. This year I'm using 5 oz cubes in each of two 54 liter barrels. IMO the ability to fine-tune the amounts is a winner for me.

OTOH, last fall my son and I shook 6 oz cubes out of a barrel. Add water, turn over and shake until out of water. Repeat until all cubes are out. It was probably hilarious to watch. Spirals and staves are easier to deal with, a trade-off from the configurability of cubes.

You may have seen my experiment with Next Level Oak's stix. 2.5 months into the experiment, I'm happy with the product. IMO the ease of use beats spirals and staves, and is way ahead of cubes. So far the stix are a bit behind the cubes in terms of imparting oak essence, but the results are promising. If it takes a month longer, it's not all that important. @Mike - Next Level Oak is working on a size configurable product for barrels, which I expect to test in the the fall.

IMO, all the oak products work. I don't believe any is a bad choice. The trade off is configurability vs. price vs. time required to get the desired results.
 

Bmd2k1

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So far I've only used the Infusion Spirals when bulk aging -- and have been happy with the end result ✌

Cheers!
 

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