The Wine Casks

These should be made of well-seasoned white oak staves, and can, of

course, be of various sizes to meet the wants of the vintner. The best

and most convenient size for cellar use I have found to be about 500

gallons. These are sufficiently large to develop the wine fully, and

yet can be filled quick enough to not interrupt fermentation. Of

course, the vintner must have some of all sizes, even down to the

five-gallon keg; but for keeping wine, a cask of 500 gallons takes less

room comparatively, and the wine will attain a higher degree of

perfection than in smaller casks. The staves to make such a cask should

be about 5 feet long, and 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick, and be the very best

wood to be had. The cask will, when ready, be about as high as it is

long, should be carefully worked and planed inside, to facilitate

washing and have a so-called door on one end, 12 inches wide and 18

inches high, which is fastened by means of an iron bolt and screw, and

a strong bar of wood. This is to facilitate cleaning; when a cask is

empty, the door is taken out, and a man slips into the cask with a

broom and brush, and carefully washes off all remnants of lees, etc.,

which, as the lees of the wine are very slimy and tenacious, cannot be

removed by merely pouring in water and shaking it about. It is also

much more convenient to let these large casks remain in their places,

than to move them about. The casks are bound with strong iron hoops.

To prepare the new casks, and also the vats, etc., for the reception of

the must, they should be either filled with pure water, and allowed to

soak for several days, to draw out the tannin; then emptied, scalded

with hot water, and afterwards steamed with, say two or three gallons

of boiling wine; or they can be made "wine-green," by putting in about

half a bushel of unslaked lime, and pouring in about the same quantity

of hot water. After the lime has fallen apart, add about two quarts of

water to each pound of lime, put in the bung, and turn the cask about;

leaving it lie sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, so that

the lime will come in contact with every part of the cask. Then pour

out the lime-water; wash once or twice with warm water, and rinse with

a decoction of vine leaves, or with warm wine. Then rinse once more

with cold water, and it will be fully prepared to receive the must.

This is also to be observed with old casks, which have become, by

neglect or otherwise, mouldy, or have a peculiar tang.

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