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I was thinking of adding oak chips in cheesecloth to a gallon carboy of red Zinfandel for one month; any experience with this?

TroubleShooting

Pierre Desocio — Syracuse, New York asks,
Q

I was thinking of adding oak chips in cheesecloth to a one gallon (3.8 L) carboy of red Zinfandel for one month; any experience with this?

A
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 make the winemaking process easy in so many different ways. The only trick is to find a way to get that package of cheesecloth-enrobed chips into your carboy, which likely has a small neck. If you’ve got a needle, thread and some scissors, however, you can easily sew yourself some long, narrow cheesecloth “socks” that will fit the bill nicely. Try cutting out a few layers of cheesecloth into strips measuring 12” (30 cm) by 4” (10 cm). Fold lengthwise, sew up one of the shorter ends, then sew up the open long side once you’ve laid a good layer of chips down the middle of this cheesecloth “burrito.” The resulting long, narrow cheesecloth tube should be able to fit down into the mouth of
Response by Alison Crowe.