The black currant wine is about half way through its life in the demiojohn now at 17 weeks old. Secondary fermentation is well over and the wine has been clearing and flavour beginning to take shape – acidity is lower and the overwhelming fruitiness of the blackcurrants is now starting to taste more like a full rich wine. I was initially sceptical as the taste was too fruity like Ribena when initially being made but this I hope will be a champion.
As the taste is deep and full I have decided to oak it. Oak makes all the good things in life such as tall ships, posh peoples floors and wine barrels. I do not have £3000 to drop on a wine barrel or the gumption to fill it so I will use oak chips to do the job.
Oak chips simply simulate being in a barrel and release lighter tannins into the wine that create some mouth feel and a decent amount of complexity in the wine taste. I have lightly toast French oak as I do not want to overpower the work I have put in. Generally speaking you can add up to 15g per British gallon (4.5 litres) and leave for up to three months or as little as a couple of days. I have opted for 20g sitting in there for 3 months as I am making 10 litres.
I prepared all my kit like syphon and bungs then just before racking put the desired chips into some sterile water with a campden tablet to minimise the chance of infection. Some people choose to boil the chips or place briefly in an oven. They had 10 minutes soaking then they were placed into the target demijohn just before I racked. They initially float but as the wine soaks into them they will start to swell and drop down to the base.
Initially I will need to check that there is no spoilage occurring as this is just a lump of wood sitting in my wine. After three months it will be ready to rack again and the chips will simply be left behind as lees. It is at this point I will stabilise the wine and think about back sweetening it before bottling and leaving to age for a year or more. Probably going to be difficult as I am eager to taste this one. Maybe a little snifter at 12 months.