For Newbie Winemakers: Things to Consider When Choosing Wine Barrels

If you are a newbie winemaker, you have many details to learn about all aspects of winemaking, including what type of containers to use for aging. While there are many choices available to you, the traditional route is to use wood wine barrels. Barrels impart special characteristics to wine that is difficult to duplicate with other types of containers. Before you go shopping for your barrels, though, you may want to learn the following things to consider when choosing your wine barrels.

A Brief History of Aging Wine in Barrels

The tradition of aging wine in barrels dates back to the ancient Romans. They needed a lightweight way to transport wine over long distances to deliver it to their armies in the field. Prior to the invention of wood barrels, clay containers were used for the same purpose.

Different Woods Are Used in Barrels Today

While oak has been the most popular wood used in winemaking barrels, it is not the only one today. Below, you will learn about some examples of these woods used at present:

  • American Oak
  • French oak
  • Oak from other countries
  • Acacia is popular in Australia

While American oak imparts different flavours to wine such as a coconut type one, French oak imparts more of a spice flavour. Both can also impart notes of clove, vanilla and smoke. The toasting level of the oak also further influences the flavour of the wine. Also, oak provides a unique aroma to your batch. Acacia is popular in wine barrels, especially here in Australia. It has gained popularity in the fact that it does not impart flavours into the wine. Instead, it allows the aromatics and the flavour of the grapes to shine through the finished product. Acacia also does not contain as much tannin as oak does, which helps to preserve the floral characteristics. White wines aged in this wood do not realise any loss of their ideal structure.

Benefits of Aging Wine in Wood Barrels 

• Wood barrels allow a slow ingress rate of oxygen, which creates a less astringent and smoother wine flavour

• Wood barrels provide the ideal environment for some of the metabolic reactions that occur during malolactic fermentation, and this helps the wine have a creamier taste

For additional facts about the things to consider when choosing wine barrels, turn to Grapeworks Consumables. Our company carries a wide assortment of wine barrels along with many other types of winemaking machinery, equipment, additives and other supplies. With our products and the right know-how, your wine will turn out in the ideal fashion with each batch that you make.