How To Choose and Use Oak Infusion Products In Barrel

Last Updated: 1/2023

Applies to: Small to medium wineries currently using only oak barrels to impart oak impact.

Oak infusion products can help replicate the aroma, flavor, and textural impact of new barrels and offer several advantages:

  • Cost Savings: Oak infusion products cost less than new oak barrels
  • Predict Oak Impact: The impact of oak infusion products can be quickly assessed through lab-scale trials with minimal barrel investment and wine volume
  • Control Oak Impact: Oak infusion products allow you to control oak impact without needing to move or transfer wine; simply remove the infusion product when the desired impact has been achieved
  • Sustainability: Using oak infusion products can extend the working life of older barrels

Choosing an Oak Infusion Product

There are a few things to consider when choosing what format and flavor profile are best for your wine:

Flavor Profile:

It is important to match the flavor profile of these products to the wine, and the only way to do that is through trials. Before selecting an oak infusion product, define the intended wine style. This will help narrow down the number of flavor profiles to try.
Flavor profile is affected by wood origin, toasting method, and toast level. We’ve created some helpful charts here that outline the flavor profiles and common uses of the oak infusion products in our portfolio. With experience, it will become easier to determine which products will produce the desired wine style.

Format (size & shape of oak):

We offer two formats compatible with barrels: Barrel Inserts and Infusion Tubes with Mini Cubes. The main winemaking difference between these is the speed of oak extraction. Barrel inserts may be preferred if a slower extraction is desired, especially during aging. Mini cubes have a high surface area to volume ratio and can impart oak characteristics more quickly, which may be desirable as a pre-bottling adjustment.

When do you add Oak Infusion Products to Barrel?

Oak infusion products can be added at any point in the winemaking process, but some convenient times to add them include:

  • When barreling down
  • Before the first topping after malolactic fermentation
  • During a rack and return

These times are convenient because no wine must be removed to fit the infusion product into the barrel.

Can You Reuse Oak Infusion Products?

You can reuse oak infusion products, but, like barrels, their impact is different with each use. When reusing oak infusion products, the best practice is to immediately transfer them into another wine. You must be confident that the original wine (and therefore the oak infusion product) is free of microbial concerns or cross-contamination may occur. Additionally, do not transfer products from red to white wine or wine color may be affected. We do not recommend cleaning and storing used oak infusion products.

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Still have questions about oak infusion products? Contact us to speak with a member of our technical team.

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