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17 New And Used Barrels


This article is from the WineMaking FAQ, by malak@CAM.ORG (Don Buchan) with numerous contributions by others.

17 New And Used Barrels

Look in a commercial listings phone book for oak barrels, barrel
coopers, wine suppliers or the like. Check a wine trade flyer or
magazine. You can also contact a winery and ask for their source or ask
to purchase one of their used barrels.

A trade advertising flyer may carry advertisements for used barrels.
Often famous wineries will advertise in them. These are generally for
full sized barrels. Purchase only from a reputable source. Some people
have had bad experiences with used barrels; if you purchase one,
"Caveat Emptor -- Buyer Beware".

Oak barrels are generally good for two or three years as a source of
oak in and of itself. At that point, you can either keep it as a
neutral barrel, or you can have a cooper take it apart, scrape it down
to fresh wood, and re-toast the barrel, at which point it's good for

{A friend of mine purchased some old whiskey barrels for his home
winemaking. Unfortunately, the first batch came out tasting more like a
whiskey than a wine. The colour was strange, too. In any case, he's
asked me if I know anything about "getting the whiskey out of the
barrels" so that he can start producing wine in them.}

Unfortunately, even if you shave and retoast the barrel you will ALWAYS
have a whiskey flavour in the wine. If you want this flavour (which is
interesting in a zinfandel) then you SHOULD shave and retoast to avoid
over 'whiskeying' the wine. If you don't want the whiskey flavour then
don't use the barrel. It will never come out.

A good way to help minimize this 'whiskeying' would be to soak the
barrel with fresh water and sulphite a few times.


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