I have three remonstrative but kindly meant words for you: don’t go there. Though I’m known among my friends and associates as an antiquities enthusiast, when it comes to winemaking, I have no trouble putting historical curiosity aside. I choose to use new equipment instead of charming old bottles encrusted with mysterious matter or “moonshine” jugs of questionable pedigree. I’m confident in saying that the carboys might contain toxic (or just plain smelly) residue that you wouldn’t want in your wine and consequently the digestive tracts of those you know and love. When you don’t know, it’s best not to take any chances.
When we can pick up new bottles and new carboys relatively cheaply, there’s no reason to jeopardize the quality of our hard-won wine because we want to save a few dollars. It’s better to let an old jug, rusty pail or patina-stained carboy make its way into an antique collection, country cottage, or backyard garden where its beauty will be better appreciated than in the cellar.
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