Sanitation of oak cubes in wine

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by ShanePB, Feb 23, 2012.

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  1. ShanePB

    ShanePB Poo-Bah (1,658) Sep 6, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I have some French Oak cubes soaking in Chardonnay which I plan to add in the secondary to my Belgian Strong Golden Ale. Since the alcohol content of Chardonnay is much lower than of, say, bourbon (which I've soaked in the past and had no issues) - is there anything to worry about in regards to the cubes? Of course the bowl and foil they're soaking in were sanitized with StarSan, but I'm curious if the wine is enough to sanitize the cubes.

    Anyone have any experience with wine soaking?
  2. Riggsy

    Riggsy Devotee (456) Jul 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I don't know if the wine is enough to sanitize but I soaked some oak chips in a Cabernet last year and added to a BSG. Bottles are still drinking nicely with no signs of infection 8 months later. Just a data point I suppose.
  3. Anthony1

    Anthony1 Crusader (712) May 3, 2009 Colorado

    it won't kill the infections. You guys just got lucky that there were not infections in caused by it. maybe a vodka soak 1st, then wine?
  4. ShanePB

    ShanePB Poo-Bah (1,658) Sep 6, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Hmm, they've already been soaking. I'm wondering if I can just dip them in a StarSan solution before adding to secondary? I know it won't take care of anything inside the cubes but the surface of the cubes would be at least sanitized... Thoughts?
    ThunderChunk likes this.
  5. dublthink

    dublthink Initiate (0) Feb 22, 2012

    subscribed... was wondering the same thing last week. I've soaked in Crown w/ great results, but never wine.
  6. mylar

    mylar Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2011 Pennsylvania

    It may be a little late for this but I will sanitise my cubes or chips by boiling water and then adding the oak it once removed from the flame and letting it sit, covered for 15 or 20 min then adding those chips/cubes to your booze
  7. ShanePB

    ShanePB Poo-Bah (1,658) Sep 6, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I may just pull them from the wine (just started soaking them yesterday), boil and then re-soak. Just to be safe.
  8. malweth

    malweth Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2007 Rhode Island

    I agree with the above. Wine can get infected - it's where vinegar comes from (and acetic acid in beer also sounds bad)... vintners are also very cautious about Brett, Lacto, and Pedio.
  9. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,456) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    to put it another way, big RISs and barleywines can get infected. if wine could sanitize something, wouldn't you expect RISs and barleywines to do so as well?

    also, i wouldn't suggest soaking cubes in this or that for flavor. soak for sanitizing, and maybe to pull out some excess tannins, then dump what it was soaked in. if the point is for some of the wine/bourbon/etc to get into the beer, what's the purpose of not just adding it on its own?
  10. chcfan

    chcfan Devotee (466) Oct 29, 2008 California

    Not to get too far off track here, but how do you keep the wine from getting oxidized/stale? Once it's opened, it seems that most wines go downhill within a week or less.

    Also, I think pulling and sanitizing is a good idea. Better safe than sorry; it would suck to lose the batch.
  11. Aiptasia

    Aiptasia Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2011 Florida

    With the cubes, boiling them won't reach the inner core of the cube unless they're in the boil for a long time. This will have the side effect of boiling off some of the tannins and other chemicals in the cubes which give them some unique flavoring characteristics. I would suggest baking the cubes on a clean cookie sheet for an hour in the oven at 250 degrees to sterilize next time.
  12. ricksox

    ricksox Initiate (0) Aug 21, 2009 California

    I'm actually considering soaking oak chips in wine and had this same question. I think what I'm going to do is use mason jars to soak the chips in. You can boil the jars to seal them up to prevent oxidation etc.
  13. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (294) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    On the one hand I like the thought of pressure or water bath canning the mason jars to prevent spoilage, but on the other hand I wonder what effect the high heat/pressure would have on the wine.
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