Oak Barrel Care in Winemaking: How to Avoid Spoilage Problems

While oak barrels help you create quality wines with distinctive flavours and characteristics, they do require special care to ensure that you obtain the desired results with your wine. You must understand that this is your responsibility when you invest in these barrels to use in your winemaking. Failing to do so can lead to wine spoilage and other undesirable issues. Luckily, all it takes is developing the right routine. Once you do this, caring and maintaining your barrels is easy and becomes just another step in making your batches of wine.

Purchase the Right Barrels 

The first step in preventing spoilage problems in oak barrels is to buy barrels that are in good condition. Whether you are purchasing used or new barrels, inspect their exterior and interior areas closely to discover any possible issues. Wide joint gaps, noticeable wood defects and over charring of the barrels are three examples of these problems. Also, cracks in the barrels can allow oxygen to seep into the wine and over oxidise it.

Maintenance for New Oak Barrels

Time your purchase of new barrels right to lower the maintenance of them. Do not buy them until you actually need them. They need to be stored at 13-degrees C and in humidity that ranges from 65 to 75 percent until it is time to prepare them for the wine. In addition, burn sulphur inside of them to replace the oxygen with sulphur dioxide gas to safeguard their interior area from spoilage organisms.

How to Prepare New Barrels for Use

Before you can fill a new barrel with wine, you will need to release the sulphur dioxide gas from it. After this, rinse the interior of the barrel with warm water. On top of all this, you must soak the barrel in clean water overnight to swell the wood in it. This method of swelling the barrels repair any leakage that can occur with dry barrels.

Care Instructions for Used Barrels

To care for used barrels, rinse the old wine from them thoroughly using clean water. Burn the sulphur in them in the same fashion as you use with new barrels. If the barrels are stored for a long period of time, you will need to check for the presence of sulphur dioxide gas in them, you will need to rinse and re-swell the used barrels before using them once again since they have dried out in storage.

For further guidance on oak barrel care in winemaking, consult with Grapeworks Consumables. We carry an extensive line of winemaking supplies, machinery and equipment for your consideration.