Following the directions that came with my new barrel were somewhat confusing to me. I did not completely understand why all of these steps needed to be taken. After a little research and a talk with my friend (and beverage manager for the resturant) Matt Branca who used to work at a winery in California I now have a better understanding for why these steps have to be taken. I started the process yesterday morning with my trusted two pint mug (perfect for Guinness) and filled the barrel to the top with warm water on the
hunt for leaks. Basically this allows the water to be absorbed into the wood finishing off the sealing process. Much to my amazement this step in the process can actually take 4 to 6 days. Lucky for me though after six or seven hours of sitting I did not see any moisture outside of the barrel signifying no leaks. Next I introduced a prepackaged amount of sodium percorbonate. After researching this I found out it was nothing more than a mix of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, and a very common ingredient in the now fashionible powdered oxygen cleaning products. This step, Matt told me, was a step he was very familiar with having worked at a winery and seen it done before every barrel was used. Finally, after an 8 hour soak of the sodium percarbonate, I drained the barrel, washed it thuroughly with hot water and then rinsed it well with a mixture of cold water and citric acid. Now the fun begins. I finally was able to install the spigot and set the barrel up for production. I combined in the barrel 8 ounces (by volume) of vinegar mother, 8 ounces (by volume) of water, and one full 750 ml bottle of white wine. Now it is just a matter of
waiting. Four to six weeks, two to three months, who knows. I plan on waiting for a least a month before starting to taste. Then I am supposed to wait at least one month before draining and starting over.