There has always been a strange relationship between wine and oak barrels. Oak barrels have been used for ageing wines for centuries, and there is something in oak that flavours the wine that is kept inside the barrel. The wine that is aged in oak barrels always has a lasting mark. Let’s take a deeper look at how wine is aged in barrels.
Types of wines that aged in barrels:
Wine gets a richer and better complexity when it is aged in oak barrels, and it also gets a better aroma and flavour. Some of the red wines that get the maximum benefit when are aged in oak barrels are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Syrah etc. Some of the white wines include Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc etc.
Why do wines get aged in oak barrels?
Oak barrels are considered quite special as they provide a richer flavour to the wine. The barrel has something for the nose and the mouth. The wine smells like it has been around the spices like clove, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg etc. On the palate, you will be able to feel the rich flavours of vanilla, cinnamon, clove, mocha, butter, toffee, coconut, caramel etc.
Barrels and wines:
An oak barrel can hold about 59 to 60 gallons of wine. The oak being porous in nature and thus you will lose at least 5 gallons of water through evaporation. Due to the evaporation process, the wine inside the barrel becomes more concentrated thus increasing the flavour of the wine. The ageing of the wine also depends on what type of barrel it is kept. For example, the flavour of the wine would depend based on the dryness of the wood, type of wood, etc.
Types of oak used in making barrels:
Some of the most common types of oak that are used for barrel making are the French oaks and the American oak. The Hungarian and the Slavonia barrels are also recently gaining popularity among winemakers.
French oak barrels are more expansive and higher wood tannins when compared to the American barrels but the American oak barrels provide a better flavour to the wine, and they also have a great impact on its aroma. As French oak barrels have tighter wooden grains in the barrel, they do not contribute much to the aroma of the wine. French barrels cost about $1000 while the American ones cost only about $350. Keeping the price and flavour in mind, you know what barrel you need to buy to age your wine. As oak barrels are quite expansive, there are other methods used by winemakers to get the flavour of oak in their wine. Winemakers take small chips of oak to wine to get the aroma and taste of oak.