Toms Wine Blog

Chateau Two by Four

Posted by Tom Corbett, December 21st, 2009 | 0 Comments

Tom’s Tips: “Chateau Two by Four”

 I am quite often asked what exactly does the oak powder (some even say ‘sawdust’) do to the wine? Well the answer is fairly simple: It gives your wine that taste and bouquet of a fine barrel conditioned red wine. Most fine red wines have been conditioned in an oak barrel.  Unfortunately the barrels are very high maintenance. If they are not kept full and properly cared for they will very quickly turn sour and that would prove disastrous for your wine. So the best bet for us  home winemakers is to put the barrel in the wine rather than the wine in the barrel. The oak from the barrel is ground, cut or shaved into smaller pieces. That way we do not need to worry about the possibility of damaging our wine or the very high level of maintenance needed to care for the barrel.

At The Vineyard most of our red wine kits come with oak and if you want to add more, we carry the oak powder, oak chips and also oak cubes.

Which one to use is up to you but a general rule of thumb is the longer the oak is to remain in contact with wine the larger the pieces should or could be. Remember that the smaller particles such as the powder increase the surface area ratio to liquid. So the powder is generally added in the primary fermenter, where it is usually only in contact with the wine for seven days. However if you plan on leaving your wine in a carboy for a while, think about using bigger pieces of oak, either the chips or cubes.

The bottom line is that oak can really add to the flavour profile of your red wine. Although recently there seems to be a trend of “un-oaked” wines, I really like the taste and bouquet of oak in my red wine. In fact some of my friends nick named my winery “Chateau Two by Four”.

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