barrel top up


I've got a 50 litre barrel that I have a Cabernet in. I put a second run wine through the barrel before putting in the cabernet so I could get the initial oak out. Now I have my cabernet in it and it is doing fine. MLF is over, the wine is sulfited. I have to add around 50 ml of wine every week to top up. I am using bottles of raw cabernet that I keep in screwtop bottles. This wine is pretty heavily sulfited so slow oxidation but there is alot of head space in the bottle. I use this bottled wine for top up for 6 weeks or so.
I've noticed a faint white ring in the bottle at the top of the wine. It smells fine. Am I endangering the wine by keeping my top up this way? I can't open a finished bottled wine every week for top up, I don't have enough. Can I keep this heavily sulfited wine around for that long without harm? How do you manage the top up for small barrels? If I had a larger barrel and was adding a bottle a week, that would be fine, but I'm using just small amounts. How do I manage this?
Thanks in advance
Dan
Reply to
demersonbc

Dan,
You are certainly putting your wine in the barrel at risk. I would stopping using this wine as top up immediately. I've seen this same faint white ring in insufficiently topped up containers in my own cellar. Some of the folks on this newsgroup helped me diagnose this as mycoderma , a film yeast similar to flor yeast used in sherry production. It definitely has tolerance to SO2 when given enough air space and it will ruin your wine if permitted to grow.
Instead of allowing a partially filled bottle to sit for weeks, I'd suggest splitting it into smaller bottles like 375mL bottles( or 187mL) that you fill completely. I've even heard of people putting small top-up quantitites into small plastic water bottles like Dasani or Aquafina for very short periods of time (a week or so). The plastic is soft enough to squeeze out air then cap tightly. If you must have some air space in the container I would suggest sparging with inert gas. You can get a canister of 'wine preserver' for about $10. It will last quite a while.
If the affected quantity of top up wine is small, I would throw it out. Otherwise, I'll pass along advice I got from Tom S. Spritz the 'white ring' with sulfite solution, top up - all the way up - and cap tightly. Make sure your barrel stays suffienctly sulfited and topped up also. Now that this has been introduce to your barrel you can't allow it to thrive.
One last thought, under normal circumstances, unless your barrel is brand new, toping up every 2-3 weeks is probably fine.
Good luck, RD
Reply to
RD

Dan - I have similar size barrels. I put top up wine in completely full beer bottles and cap them. I don't top up every week. Every time you open the barrel you let air in. Even tho. there is evaporation of wine in the barrel a vacuum is formed...air is not drawn in around the cork. Try waiting at least two weeks between top ups. I find that one beer bottle of top up wine can fill my two small barrels on that schedule.
Bill Frazier Olathe, Kansas USA
Reply to
William Frazier

Interesting, Bill. I have two 57L French Oak barrels. I also top up every two weeks and use nearly one 375mL bottle with enough for a sip or two left over. If I'm not mistaken that's about 12 fl. oz., right - the size of a standard American beer?
RD
Reply to
RD

RD - You are correct...12 ounces. I have a 10 gallon and 5 gallon barrel. Mine are at least 5 years old so I add StaVin cubes or some French Oak Chips to the barrels to impart oak flavor and depend on the barrels to concentrate the wine thrugh evaporation. One beer bottle's worth of top up wine does the trick for me.
Bill Frazier Olathe, Kansas USA
Reply to
William Frazier

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