Wine lovers all over the world swear by wine making barrels. And why shouldn’t they by the way? The flavor they add to the wine is unparalleled and is perfect for pampering your love for wine. Whether it is Rose Wine or Shiraz, the quality coming from barrels is tough to match and holds the potential of giving any drink a run for its money.
However, maintaining your personalized barrels can be a tough nut to crack. It needs constant effort and a routine. You can’t just keep a barrel out there in a corner and forget about it for the next six weeks. It does not work that way.
Here, we have brought you top 5 tips to make the most out of these awesome creations –
1. Select The Right Barrel
Buying a new or used wine barrel demands a lot of inspection and attention from the buyer. A thorough examination of the interior and exterior of the barrel to be bought can save you from any later regrets. A proper visual inspection of the barrel on the inside, preferably inserting a source of light through the bunghole, can help you detect any potential problems with ease. During manufacturing, they generally toast the barrels in an open fire. As a result of which, the barrel should have a smooth finishing with an even brown color. Although the charring levels are not defined for barrels and there is no set standard for the same, but the amount of fire you expose your barrel to can make or break the deal. Lightly charred barrels, in general, though are good candidates for buying as each char level imparts a unique flavor to the wine stored bringing in more taste and tang.
You should also look for any wood defects or wide joint gaps. In case you are buying a used barrel, make sure it doesn’t have any cracks. Such barrels tend to have a crack emerging from the bunghole, which may result in over-oxidation of the wine.
2. Prepare The Barrel Well Before Use
You must swell a new barrel with water before transferring wine into it otherwise the barrel can start leaking. An effective way to swell a new barrel is to keep it filled with water before pouring wine into it. It is an effective and preferred method to prepare the barrel for use.
3. Clean The Barrel Properly For A Long Life
Between each batch of wine that a barrel holds, you must clean it. Storing wine in the barrel leads to the formation of tartrate coatings and yeast molecules resulting in a ruined wine taste. You must properly rinse it with water after each storing session.
In addition to rinsing, you should use sodium percarbonate mixed in warm water as a cleaner for your wine barrels. This will ensure an optimum flavor and wonderful taste for the future batches of wine to be stored in the barrel.
If you are very much in love with your barrel then keep in mind that cleaning it often with sterilizers can shorten its lifespan by a significant margin.
4. You Cannot Keep It Just Anywhere!
The location of your barrel plays an important role in deciding its lifespan. You should preferably store it in a cool environment away from direct sunlight. If the place where you reside is extraordinarily dry, you should wipe the barrel down with a mildly wet cloth at least once in a week in order to keep it hydrated.
5. Some Other General Barrel Use Tips
- When keeping it aside filled with water for storage, you should keep a check on it. Top it off after a few days or a week. This will make sure that you do not lose much to evaporation and the barrel stays hydrated for long.
- You must never keep your barrel in an artificially cold environment as it will cause the staves of the barrel to shrink resulting in leakage. Curing the barrel is indispensable before using it for the first time. It allows the staves of the barrel to swell properly without which there can be leakage.
- Very hot water is the ideal solution for curing barrels. In case, you are curing it again, opt for boiling water.
- Your barrel’s life has not come to an end in case it suddenly starts leaking. A small amount of barrel wax is all that you need to fix it. Small leaks and cracks can be fixed by barrel wax easily. The method is quite durable too until you let the barrel go dry again for a long time.
- An efficient way of maximizing a barrel’s life is to always keep it filled with some kind of liquid. If you are not a fan of spirit, water can serve the purpose for you until you are ready with your next batch of wine to be stored in the barrel.
- Another way to keep the symbols of your love for wine in an awesome condition is to rotate it periodically. This will make sure that all the inside parts of the barrel are evenly hydrated.
Thus, these were some of the tips to use and maintain your personalized wine or whiskey barrels. It does not matter whether you own one aging barrel or many, the effort that goes into maintenance is the same. Even a single barrel demands a significant amount of attention, which any genuine wine lover would happily give!