I have tried oaking wine to my satisfaction with oak chips. Now I want to make my own oaking strips. I purchased some white oak that I sawed into yard stick width and thickness. I noticed in the wine supplies different types of flavors for oaking. I was told it was like flavored coffee. What should I do to the strips so as I can oak wine?
First, I want to commend you on your DIY spirit. It's fun hearing about people tryin' to get it done on their own.
This is a project that is a little more involved than one might first suspect. Preparing oak to be used in wine is a very delicate process. I for one would suggest that you are probably better off by leaving this one to the experts.
First, it is important that you use a white oak as opposed to red oak. The oak then needs to be dried to what cooperages refer to as sap clear. They do this by letting the slats or staves of wood dry cross-stacked in the sun for 1 to 3 years. The wood is rotated and rearranged periodically to allow for even drying.
Once the white oak is sap clear it then needs to be toasted. This is typically done over a flame of burning white oak. There is some art and some science to this process. Not only do you need to be concerned about how toasted the wood is becoming, you also need to be concerned about the temperature being used to do the toasting. Both how much you toast the wood and how fast it toasts plays into the flavor the wood will bring to the wine.
If the wood is toasted too fast there is not enough time for all the carmelized sugars in the wood to raise to the surface. Toast the wood too long and you will raise too much tannin which is bitter.
Because of the complexity involved, I would suggest that you do not try this yourself and purchasing some oak that has been professionally prepared. It is not something I would try, especially when a batch of wine may be on the line, and the toasted oak is relatively inexpensive.
Happy Wine Making,