Store your barrels in close, odorless places away from drafts;
The minimum humidity level must be of 65%;
A barrel, wrapped in its protective film as delivered, can be kept for several months;
Sulphuring of new barrels is unnecessary and strongly discouraged: it can lead to a reduction before methionol fermentation.
All barrels are delivered ready to use. However, it is still recommended to check each barrel carefully by:
Pouring 20 to 30 liters of hot water into the barrel;
Shaking the barrel up and down to moisten the inside. Then letting it vertical for the water to stay an hour or two on each head.
That way, using minimum water, your barrel is properly set.
A wine thief remains the best tool to test wine. However, doing so while wood and wine are still melting is a mistake. Wood melts away with ageing!
In case of an emergency
All new barrels have a one-year guarantee. However, as any living material, oak wood can have some flaws. Act quickly once noticing:
A wormhole: first, shape a small piece of oak into a pencil lead; then place the tip of the piece into the hole; finally, cut it as close to the stave as possible.
A small node: use tallow (or similar fat) on the oozing part to stop it from leaking.
Porosity at the end of a stave (chamfer): drive the tip of a nail going with the grain of the wood and place the tip of a small piece of oak previously shaped as a pencil lead; cut it as close to the stave as possible. Gently sand by hand.