Curing your wine barrel is a necessary process to preserve the oak, keep bacteria away, keep odors out and maintain freshness. Upon purchase, you must cure wood barrel. Curing completes two functions:
- It allows the barrel to swell to prevent leaking. You do not want your barrel to dry out as this is a primary cause of leaking.
- It limits the amount of alcohol absorbed by the barrel. This is especially important for wine making as repeated use for different wines in different years is not affected by flavors potentially absorbed by the wood.
Begin by placing the appropriate number of storing tablets (see below) in the barrel and fill the barrel half way with boiling or very hot water. Allow it to soak for 6-12 hours. Water may leak from between the staves or at the barrel head seam. This is normal and should stop within 24 hours as the wood swells. You may repeat this process 3-4 times.
Sometimes, when a wooden window is in a larger barrelhead, barrel wax (see below) must be used to seal the frame. Barrels that do not leak should STILL be cured for 3 days. This will minimize the amount of alcohol absorbed by the barrel staves and is necessary to keep the wood hygienic. After curing the barrel (there is no leaking at all), empty the
solution and rinse with cold water 3 times. If your barrel is big, use a hose to rinse your barrel thoroughly and remove any residue and odors, the cold water will refresh your barrel. Allow your barrel to air out a few hours. It is best to air out your barrel on a clear, dry day, not rainy. Now fill the barrel with your wine and place the bung in tightly. …Enjoy!
Storing your Barrel
When storing your barrel between uses, always keep the barrel filled with a sterilized water solution. This will keep the barrel from drying out and keep bacteria from growing in the barrel. We suggest using Swish Barrel Storing Tablets.
Swish Barrel Storing Tablets are pre-measured doses of sulfites formulated to kill bacteria and inhibit the growth of wild yeast and microbes in the barrel. When storing or cleaning your barrel between uses, dissolve the appropriate quantity of tablets in a container of water. Pour this mixture in the barrel and fill the barrel completely with additional water. Store in cool damp conditions if possible. Rinse your barrel 3 times prior to use.
This product may be useful if you are re- using a barrel that may have dried out. Of course, you should follow the instructions for curing a barrel. If your barrel still leaks at the head or stave seams or even through the wood, you may need Barrel Wax. This can happen to any barrel and is a normal part of the barrel aging process. To stop leaks (when you’ve cured 3-4 times without complete success), apply a small amount of Barrel Wax to the leaking area. Sometimes spigots may leak around the fitting to the oak barrel itself, barrel wax solves this problem easily.
Wine Barrels should be cleaned after every use; from fermentation to aging, and when changing to a different wine. To clean the barrel, use aSwish Barrel Cleaning Kit and follow the directions below…
Barrel Cleaning Instructions
1) Dissolve the Barrel-Kleen into 1-2 gallons of warm water. Fill the barrel with this cleaning solution and soak for 24 hours, rolling the barrel or swishing it in your hands so the Barrel-Kleen comes in contact with the entire interior of the barrel. Empty and rinse 3 times with hot water.
2) Dissolve the Neutralizing Acid into 1-2 gallons of warm water. Fill the barrel with this neutralizing solution and soak for 15 minutes. Again, rolling the barrel or swishing it so the liquid comes in contact with the entire interior of the barrel. Empty and rinse 3 times with hot water.
3) When storing the barrel or prior to re-use, dissolve the 2 sterilizing tablets in 1 -2 gallons of cool water. Fill the barrel with the solution. Roll or swish the barrel around for a few minutes and rinse 3 times with hot water.To prevent the barrel from drying out and to minimize the possibility of contamination, barrels should always be stored full with wine, spirits or sterilizing solution.
Barrel Spigot Brush
Barrel spigots may collect sediment from your wines. This can add unwanted flavors to wine poured through the spigot. To keep your spigot clean, remove the spigot from the barrel. Insert your spigot cleaning brush through the spigot barrel and twist it around a couple of turns. Remove the nozzle and do the same.
For best results, use a storing tablet cleaning solution. This will insure that no soap residue will remain in the spigot.