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Testing Wine Barrels, Dry Ice: Wine Wizard

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  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, a burning sulfur stick will extinguish when inserted into the air space. Is this a sure way of determining that the barrel is infected, or is there something else that would extinguish the burning sulfur stick? John Neild Cambridge, Maryland 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 bad taste in the wine. That being said, in any container, the only thing I can think of that would extinguish a burning sulfur stick would be the following: lack