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Cleaning wooden barrels, barriques and wine steel tanks

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To produce a high-quality wine, attention must be given to every small detail, one of which undoubtedly includes the cleaning of the wooden barrels used for ageing. The washing of wooden barrels and barriques is a crucial factor in the creation of superior wines. It is a delicate yet fundamental process that guarantees the purity and authenticity of the flavors.

Empty barrels or wine tanks require specific attention to prevent the growth of mould and decay of acetobacteria, which may reduce the quality of the wine stored later.

Cleaning wooden barrels with hot water and high-pressure hot water: why it is not enough.

When a barrel is emptied, an important process follows: its cleaning. This is not simply a technicality, but rather a crucial measure to protect the wine from undesirable mold and the growth of microorganisms that may harm its quality.

The conventional practice of rinsing with boiling water, though effective in removing some impurities, is frequently inadequate for entirely eradicating the germs and bacteria residing within the barrels, which jeopardizes the integrity of the wine. Actually, the temperature of hot water is inadequate to ensure the complete annihilation of these harmful microorganisms. Moreover, certain residues adhering to the inside walls of barrels, such as sediments or tannins, may necessitate a more extensive cleaning procedure than simply rinsing with water to ensure complete removal.

Simply using high-pressure hot water may not effectively clean every nook and cranny of wine barrels, giving rise to untreated areas where microorganisms can survive. Moreover, this method has the potential to harm the wood and compromise the barrel’s structural integrity, thereby jeopardizing its ability to maintain wine quality.

cleaning wine barrels

Wine tank cleaning: the role of dry steam

In contrast to washing barrels with hot water, the use of a high-pressure steam injection machine is a functional and reliable method. A short steam treatment, usually about 10 minutes at a pressure of about 10 bar, is highly effective in ensuring barrel sterilization.

Steam infiltrates even the most inaccessible parts of the barrel, condensing on the interior surface, and enabling a comprehensive rinse. The steam’s elevated temperature not only eliminates any residue but also obliterates bacteria and ferments, ensuring a rigorous cleanse and suitable sterilisation.

Steam is not only suitable for washing barrels, but also for effectively cleaning the large stainless-steel tanks that wine is stored in, commonly known as wine vessels. Thorough cleaning using conventional methods can be a challenging task. With the use of steam, it is possible to sanitize the entire wine tank in a single step, regardless of its size, thus saving both time and water. This method has proven effective and efficient in eliminating any contaminants present in the wine vessel.

Steam cleaners can also be used to sanitise bottling lines, one of the most difficult areas to clean. Thanks to the power of steam, the entire bottling line can be cleaned in a very short time, without the need to dismantle components or use chemical cleaners to eliminate harmful micro-organisms.

Maintenance of wooden barrels: How often should the barrels be washed?

Cleaning wooden barrels and casks is a crucial aspect of the wine-making process and must be undertaken upon every discharge of the tank, cask, or canister. Aside from eliminating leftover debris and impurities, its primary objective is to maintain the integrity of the wine by impeding microbiological pollution that might undermine the ultimate product’s flavour and quality.

The frequency of barrel sterilisation depends on their usage. If the barrels are not used periodically, they should be sterilised at least once or twice a year to prevent unpleasant smells and the spread of harmful agents.

The quality of wine is not exclusively determined by proper vinification; it also relies on the diligent and hygienic upkeep of the barrels. Investment in the use of steam for cleaning and sterilisation is a crucial step for those who seek to create pure and authentic wines.

If you work in the wine industry and need a steam cleaner for cellar sanitation, do not hesitate to contact the experts at STI Steam Industry for information or a quote!

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