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I am using Flextanks and oak chips for my wine and am really liking the results…


Marianne Pariseau — LeSage Spokane, Washington asks,

I am using Flextanks and oak chips for my wine and am really liking the results. However, I put the oak chips in loose and they clog up the tubing and pump when I rack. I was thinking of making some bags out of mesh to put the oak chips in, but was wondering about the mesh fabric, imparting flavor to the wine. The fabrics I have found are nylon or polyester. Would either of these be a problem in wine? (The reason I’m not switching to oak cubes or spirals is I have a huge bag of oak chips already.)

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 guessed it, it’s a heck of a lot easier to work with them if you confine them to a bag or a sack of some kind. My non-coopered oak supplier of choice, Stavin (based in California) packs their oak beans and segments in food-grade nylon bags. These puppies are big however, weighing in at 20 lbs. (9 kg) each and are way too large for most home winemakers.     So get creative with your oak bagging! I shop at my friendly home winemaking store in Napa and (gasp!) even meander over to the brewing section to pick up some food-grade nylon mesh bags of various sizes. Friends of the Wiz use them for infusing hops or grain in their brews but I use them for
Response by Alison Crowe.