Tannins are a big piece of the large puzzle when balancing many styles of wine. It’s important to understand ways to increase or decrease their presence when that balance leans too heavily in one direction or the other.
There is no denying that oak alternatives are a lot gentler on the wallet and on the environment. Bob Peak takes a spin through oak chemistry, available options, and techniques to incorporate them to elevate your wines.
New oak barrels can provide a lot of character to wine, but they are a sizable investment. Photo courtesy of MoreWine! Hey, I see you, I hear you, and I’m so here for you! The average price for a French oak barrel has really become very high in the last couple of years (decades?) and
Well, the first thing I always say is, “A full barrel is a happy barrel.” That means that the barrel is best stored with wine in it! The acidity of the wine (generally reds tend to be a pH of 3.5–3.8-ish) keeps spoilage microbes at bay and of course the wetness of the wine keeps
Wine barrels are constantly changing. Each time one is filled it will lose some characteristics and, eventually after enough uses, it will go neutral. How you use a barrel should change over time also.
I’m so pleased you’ve done some oak trials! If you’ve read my column over the years you know that I’m always advising our intrepid readers to do small-scale trials (sometimes I call them “bench trials” after the “lab bench” work surface of your average winery enologist) before they commit to an additive or course of
The role of oak in our wines can fall on a broad spectrum and the type of oak products used can change the dynamics. Make sure you’ve got the lowdown on the impacts of oak and how it can be manipulated.
I never boil or rinse my chips because, you’re right, that’ll strip them of the valuable flavor and aroma right off the bat. The one thing you need to do first, either before you buy chips or before you add them to your wine batch, is to smell them. If they smell moldy, musty, or
Well, I suppose you could sand the varnish off if you didn’t like it very much . . . but, realistically, I don’t think it’ll affect the wine that much. If you’ve read some of my pieces on smaller barrels you know that the smaller the vessel the higher the ratio of air exposure to
Adding oak to a wine can add an amazing depth of character or it can detract from the fruit. Learn some keys to managing the oak in your wine.
In deciding to bottle, age or toss this batch, I suggest you spend some quality time with your barrel. Though you’re just past the usual bottling window (typical aging time for premium red wines is 10–18 months, depending on the varietal and style) you may be able to catch it before it goes south. Especially
Thanks for bringing up this topic. There are some parts of the answer that’ll be really obvious but like so much in winemaking, it’s often up for interpretation and the subtleties may vary from winemaker to winemaker, even in the professional world. “% new oak” seems like a simple calculation. But when you dig in,
What an intriguing question. I’m having some pioneer-prairie-blacksmith-shop fantasy thoughts on how you might be able to toast the inside of your barrel on your own. Depends on how crazy you want to get. Before I go there — with all the non-OSHA approved tactics — let me address your other mini-questions. “Untoasted barrel —
There are a lot of benefits to aging wines in oak barrels . . . but the costs of buying one is not on that list. Luckily there are alternatives. Photo courtesy of MoreWine! I hear you about not wanting to drop that kind of cash for a new barrel, especially as a new hobbyist.
Unfortunately, with a small barrel like that, you’re going to have a high ratio of oxygen:wine. If you think about a traditional-sized barrel, it’s about 59 gallons (225 L); there’s a lot of wine in there. Especially if your barrel is much smaller, the surface area-to-wine ratio is much bigger for your mini-barrel than for
Barrels offer a lot more benefits to wine than just oak taste and tannins, but full-size barrels are often out of reach for the home winemaker. Smaller barrels that are more home winemaker-friendly pose some nuances when it comes to wood-to-wine ratio, but they offer the same benefits when you know how to use them.
If a barrel isn’t in your immediate winemaking plans — or if your barrel has been filled so many times it has become neutral in oak character — there are many other options on the market in the forms of oak alternatives. Get to know the options to see which may be best for your cellar.
Owning your own oak barrel can yield great rewards when handled properly. We asked the advice of two professionals that know what it takes to care for a new barrel and keep them in tip-top shape.
Q I am a novice home winemaker and have been contemplating making the move from carboy and bottle-aging to barrel-aging some of my reds. It is my understanding that a new barrel
Aging your wine in an oak barrel can do wonders for your wine. It can also ruin it. Before you dive in head first, learn all there is to know about aging in oak. Plus: Using oak alternatives.
Thanks for clarifying your question a little bit. I am glad to hear you regularly top off your barrels, it’s a practice all of us need to do. Alcohol and water definitely do evaporate out of barrels (along with small amounts of other volatile aroma constituents of wine) and the resulting headspace does need to
Materials for Project: 1.) sand paper grits 40, 80, 120, 240 2.) matte black paint 3.) 3 or 4 coach bolts with washers and nuts 4.) drill and drill bits 5.) 3 or 4 wood screws 6.) small nail or tacks 7.) hammer 8.) jig saw (reciprocating saw) 9.) clean rags 10.) your favorite timber
I’ve certainly had the odd leaker (or three) but I’ve never experienced trans-stave leakage of the scale that you describe. Before I delve any deeper, I first of all would like to say that your situation is unusual and one that warrants an immediate customer service call (read: complaint) to your barrel supplier. It is
A lot of home winemakers make small batches of wine that aren’t enough for a whole barrel. Thankfully there are lots of options for those of us making only a few gallons (or liters) at a time. In this article, two experts discuss their oak alternative choices. Tristan Johnson, Brand Manager at MoreWine! & MoreWine!