Oak Barrel Aging Tips

Oak Barrels Can Have An Intense Effect On WineWhen aging your wine in an oak barrel, there are a few things to remember. This oak barrel aging tips and tricks can greatly change the outcome of your wine and how it tastes.

If you are using a new oak barrel for the first time, taste often. Oak can seep into wine quickly, changing the taste. Until you’ve used your oak barrel a few times, it is a good idea to keep a close eye on it.

One of the oak barrel aging tips is to watch the temperature that you keep your oak barrels in. You need to keep your oak barrels at a constant temperature year round. For example, if you store your barrels in the cellar the temperatures may soar during the summertime if you do not have proper insulation. This will cause a quicker extraction of the oak and will greatly alter the taste.

Also with new barrels, watch the level. New barrels will often absorb more wine in the beginning of the process than older barrels. You may need to add more each week, then once a month. Keep in mind that the size of your barrel and the temperature you keep your barrels in will also affect the levels.

Most wineries now use a silicone bung. Not only are they cheaper but it provides a tighter seal on the wine. Traditional wood bungs are good to use as well but could potentially spoil and ruin your batch of wine. If you do choose to use a silicone bung, make sure it is a breathable bung. Wooden bungs naturally allow gas to escape when needed. This is needed when a barrel expands in volume under rising temperatures.

Another one of our oak barrel aging tips is that you should set a schedule of racking every three months. If you filtered your wine, you can rack less. Always use hot water to clean out leftover deposits and always rinse with cold water. This will help you keep your oak barrels in good condition for years to come.

Pay attention to the levels of SO2, this is one of the most important oak barrel aging tips. If you plan to use oak barrels to age your wine, it is smart to invest in a device to measure the levels of SO2. While stainless steel barrels don’t allow much oxygen in, it can maintain SO2 levels better. An oak barrel will allow oxygen in through its walls. This may make SO2 levels fall much quicker. At least four times a year you should check the levels of SO2 in your oak barrels.

To avoid hydrogen sulfide problems, here’s another one of our oak barrel aging tips. You need to know the history of the oak barrel. If sulfur was burned inside the barrel during storage, you need to thoroughly clean out the barrel.