oak wine barrel

How to Oak a Homemade Wine – The Best 4 Methods

Do you want to know how to oak a homemade wine? Many of our favorite wines have that smoked oak flavor. This flavor comes from the wine being aged in charred oak barrels of different char levels. You can get barrels in light, medium, or dark char. Sometimes winemakers and brewers will re-use used whiskey barrels to get a unique taste. Unfortunately, it’s hard for home winemakers to get access to barrels because they are expensive and often way too large for the scale of home winemakers. Most of us making wine at home will use glass carboys or some type of stainless steel containers. Lucky for us there are some options for oaking wine at home in containers that are not barrels.

These oak products can be used to add oak flavor to your homemade wine, whiskey, moonshine, beer, or other alcohol. If you’re new to winemaking then you may want to take a look at our guide on how to make homemade wine.

Oak a Homemade Wine with Oak Staves

Oak staves or spiralsoak staves for home winemaking are one of the best options for adding oak flavor to your homemade wine. The spirals are cut in a way to maximize the surface area contact of the wood to the wine to allow for maximum flavor extraction. These oak staves come in a variety of toast levels so that you can get the flavor profile you want from your wine. I recommend starting with a medium toast if you are not sure.

Usually, the oak staves come in a pack of two to give you the option of how much flavor you want to add. I typically add both oak spirals to my 5-gallon glass carboy for about 4-6 weeks to get the flavor I want. Oak staves are the best option to oak a homemade wine because they are easy to use, relatively cheap and extract a maximum amount of flavor in a short time. Get your oak staves to oak a home made wine here.

Oak a Homemade Wine with Oak Chips

oak chips for wineOak chips are one of the oldest methods of oaking a homemade wine. Many people have used oak chips with great success for years. They are a little bit more difficult to use than oak staves because they are loose. This makes them more difficult to get out of your carboy when you are done. However, these oak chips are still a good option for the home vintner. They come in a variety of different toast levels from light, to medium, to dark toasting to get you the flavor that you are looking for in your wine. You can also get these in French or American oak. Typically American oak has a stronger more “punchy” flavor than it’s French counterpart. Try oak chips in your homemade wine today.

Oak a Homemade Wine with Oak Powder

oak powder for wineOak powder is our third option for adding oak flavor to homemade wine. Like the other options, oak powder comes in French and American and various toasting levels from light to dark. Oak powder gives you the most surface due to the nature of the powder. Every individual granule of powder is exposed to the wine. This makes flavor extraction great but can cause issues in your wine later. You’re probably going to need to filter your wine if you use an oak powder. The powder can be sucked up by a typical siphon and transferred during wine racking. That makes oak powder less than ideal when compared to chips and stave/spirals.

Oak a Homemade Wine in Small Barrels

small oak barrelBelieve it or not, it is possible to find a few smaller oak barrels online. The example I found is a small 2-liter barrel. This is probably way smaller than you would want if you are doing 5-gallon batches but may work out well for a 1-gallon batch. You get the experience of oaking in a real wine barrel but it comes at a cost. I’m also unsure how many times you can reuse your barrel and still get a good oak flavor our of it. Anyway if you are interested in trying out a mini oak barrel you can take a look at this one.

Options for Adding Oak Flavor to Homemade Wine

Here are some of the great options we discussed to oak our homemade wines.