Barrel Care and Treatment Suggestions
Barrel care: All barrels are made of fire bent staves of premium French oak. The timber is dried to moisture content of 14% before the production takes place. Seasonal fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity will cause the barrel to take on or lose moisture. The timber will expand or shrink accordingly. Hence, your barrel may show small gaps on arrival. Before filling your OAKIN barrel with wine, it is therefore recommended to fill the barrel with water for up to 24 hours. This will ensure that the timber expands tightly. Please check that the hoops sit firmly around the barrel. You can minimize leakages caused by the fluctuations of the humidity by keeping it at least half full at all times.
Never immerse the barrel in water. Fill the barrel on a draining board or sink, in case there is initial seepage from the timber.
Once being in use, do not leave it empty for more than 24 hours. The drying timber will start shrinking, which in turn will lead to leakage initially and eventually to the loosening of the hoops and ultimately making the barrel unusable.
Do not polish or clean the barrel with chemical polisher. Use a gentle dishwashing solution to remove dust or staining. Colourisation through the usage of red or white wine may occur like in professional wine treatment situations, which can only be minimized by careful handling when filling.
Treatment suggestions: The oak used in this barrel is French oak, the same quality as that used by wine makers for ageing and maturing of top quality wine (other oak source are American oak, which is far cheaper and less subtle in its effect on the wine). Barrels used in professional wine ageing process are much larger (usually 225 – 300L). The size of the much larger barrels expose less area of oak to the wine, which require the wine to be stored for 3-24 months. To achieve a similar effect to the wine exposed in a small barrel is much more rapid. Hence, the first fill of your barrel should therefore be a much shorter period (e.g. 1-4 weeks). As in professional winemaking, the timber source and the wine is exposed to the timber will develop different results, which makes it ever more exciting to taste the difference from a subtle oak flavour typical for chardonnay wine to fully integrated oak ageing of red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon or one of Australian favourites the Shiraz. The first batch of wine will have stronger oak characteristics with subsequent treatments becoming less and lesser.
Test the first batch every few days. If the wine develops to strong oak flavours for your taste, fill half the contents in bottles and refill the barrel with untreated wine. As in professional winemaking, the different batches of wine can be used to blend your own personal wine to your liking. Repeat the process by gradually extending the time between the refills.
Experimenting with other spirits will provide further variety and will provide you with new tasting sensations. To blend with other spirits add one cup of Brandy, – to give a lifted nose and dry finish to your wine, Old Tawny Port – for a more aged character or Liqueur Muscat – for a softer and sweeter finish.
Good Luck !!