After 15 years of making wine, I am finally embarking upon the use of barrels and it is very exciting. Just having the barrels in my homewinery creates an ambiance that is softer, more aromatic and a bit primitive. I’m feeling that my homewinery is now more in sync with the Old World milieu of
To Oak, or not to Oak, a phrase I took from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and changed the words around a little. But going a step further and delving into the tools that winemaker’s have in their hip pocket, are all the tools necessary? Some winemakers think they have to follow a certain recipe or protocol
Oak barrels have long been used primarily for aging red wines but also to shape the style of certain white varietals, such as Chardonnay, into fuller-bodied wines. Oak wood imparts what is generally referred to as toasted-oak aromas and flavors, but more specifically, these include a varied set of volatile compounds, from aldehydes to oak
Is aging wine in a barrel that once held spirits totally off limits? One hobby winemaker made some experimental wines to test it out.
In the final installment of our year-long series, the wines are bulk aged, oaked, and bottled.
Your pictures of the barrel you made are very impressive and I applaud both your ambition and skill! The artistry it takes to cut, shape, curve, and toast wood so it will hold liquid is not easy to acquire. Bravo to you. To answer your question, it’s possible that some iron filings (from grinding the
Sometimes, a wine you believed would be balanced during fermentation comes up a little short after fermentation is complete. Learn what you can do to restore it to an order of balance with these post-fermentation adjustments.
I love your innovation. A “chip sock” can be a real boon to winemakers. In fact, I mention using one in The Winemaker’s Answer Book where I suggest using a nylon stocking
I agree with your local winery supply store employee; it’s most likely a surface yeast or “flor” yeast of some kind, forming a floating plaque on top of your wine. Sometimes referred to as “wine flower” (or the Spanish word, flor), these yeast aren’t turning sugar into alcohol, they’re actually eating alcohol and oxidizing it
First, make sure that the portion left over, i.e. the portion you are not bottling now and will be adding more oak to, will be stored in a completely full (or “topped up”) container. This is critical to protect wine, especially white wines, from the ravages of oxygen and aerophilic spoilage organisms. Now, on to
I think your barrels should be salvageable. Since you fished out the sulfur stick and are aware that you might have some residual sulfurous acid hanging about, you’ve already won half the battle; you know you need to do something to neutralize any acid in there. I would imagine you could get rid of most
The benefits of fermenting or aging wine in toasted oak barrels are indisputable and unmatched by any other type of wood. Not only do oak compounds impart aromas and flavors as well
First off, one should never burn a sulfur wick in a wet barrel; only do this (which releases the antimicrobial SO2 gas, which we want) when your barrel is well dried-out. This is because the sulfur gas will combine with the water in the wet barrel and form sulfurous acid, which can lead to a
Wine barrel testing My barrels are American oak, repeatedly used for wine, and about five years old. When empty, I fill them with water containing a strong solution of potassium metabisulfite (one pound to 50 gallons). I find that when the water solution is a little low, and prior to topping with more solution,
Like you I find oak pieces (segments, beans and sometimes chips) are a great way to practice elevage (aging and development) with small lots that won’t fit into a 60-gallon (227-L) barrel or for larger lots where I just don’t want the hassle of barrels. If you’re using small pieces of wood in winemaking, you
Argon gas My carboys are 6 1⁄4 gallons (24 L). I am making mostly heavy reds and want to bulk age in glass carboys for up to twelve months before bottling. I don’t mind topping off with a small amount of similar wine every once in a while but what do you do when making
A song to the oak, the brave old oak, Who hath ruled in the greenwood long; Here’s health and renown to his broad green crown, And his fifty arms so strong. There’s
A Word From the Publisher And the Wine Wizard is……. “When will my fermentation stop?” “Why did my fermentation stop?” One thing I can count on as publisher of WineMaker magazine is that each day winemakers will email us asking for help and looking for answers. When WineMaker launched in 1998, we realized the importance
Ah, the timeless pairing of American oak and Zinfandel. It’s a taste combination that’s got more than 100 years of history in U.S. winemaking and if the number of Zin labels that
Dear Wine Wizard, 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 can soak up quite a bit of wine when first placed in use. However, my question is what do you do
Congrats on embarking on the ever-fascinating and (just as often) maddening adventure of using oak in home winemaking! You’ve discovered what many of your predecessors already have — that it is sometimes difficult to locate appropriate equipment, additives and supplies, especially in the smaller quantities and sizes that so many of us home winemakers require.
I firmly believe that — much like Sauternes and foie gras, Port and blue cheese — oak chips and cheese cloth were always destined for each other. Many winemakers, from purveyors of thousand-gallon commercial lots to 10-liter demijohnners, take advantage of homemade oak chip “tea bags.” I’ve been advocating their use for years as they
Do you yearn to create oak-style wines that rival Bordeaux first growths, Super Tuscans, or the so-called California cult wines, but have been hesitant to invest time and effort to care and
One of the most enduring — and evocative — images in the winemaking world is that of the barrel room. Virtually every commercial vintner has one, and it’s among the “must sees” on any winery tour. Besides its symmetrical beauty and photo-op appeal, the barrel room indicates that the vintner is shooting for an elusive