Comparison of oak staves vs wine barrels

How much time should I leave my wine sitting with oak staves in the carboys? As much as I need to make it taste correct! Silly answer, but the right one.

I thought I would perform a comparison of oak surface area to volume wine for a traditional oak wine barrel and the oak staves that I use in my carboys.

  • Oak barrel surface area to volume wine ratio = 54 sq in/gallon
    • Volume = 59 gal
    • Approximate total inside surface area = 3178 sq in
      • Radius of barrel head = ~11 in
      • Height of barrel = 35 in
      • Area of end: pi * radius^2 = 3.14 * 11 * 11 = 380 sq in
      • Assume inside area is of a cylinder:
      • Cylinder area = 2 * pi * radius * height = 2 * 3.14 *11*35 = 2418 sq in
  • Oak stave in 7 gal glass carboy surface area to volume wine ratio = 4.6 sq in/gallon
    • Volume = 7 gal
    • Stave surface area = (2 ends * .25 sq in) + (4 sides * (.5 * 16)) = 32.5 sq in
      • Stave ends cross section = 0.5 x 0.5  in
      • Length  = 16 in

Wow! That means it takes 54/4.6 = 12 times as long to get the same oak into the wine in my carboys as it does in a barrel. I always use  new oak staves. So 1 month in a new oak barrel is the same as 1 year with 1 stave in a 7 gallon carboy. Actually, the stave would be “worn out” pretty quickly. I really should be using multiple staves. Or barrels!

One Response to “Comparison of oak staves vs wine barrels”

  1. They Did the Math: Formulas and Calculations for Barrels and Alternatives – To Brew a Beer Says:

    […] This blog post seems to indicate that a 59-gallon wine barrel corresponds to a barrel surface area to volume of 54 square inches per gallon. […]

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