Cuisine / Wine. Why are wines aged in wooden barrels?

What is the use of livestock?

Between the end of fermentation and marketing, the wine will evolve. During this aging process, which can take several weeks, the wine gets rid of its residue, clarifies and rounds off. Contact with oxygen alters aromas and combines tannins to reduce astringency. Whether in barrels (10% of French production), in stainless steel or cement vats, in concrete eggs, all wines are aged during aging. The only exception is the first ones, like the new Beaujolais.

Why choose wood?

Wood aging improves the “performance” of wine. Cometary? Premiere, it develops more or less pronounced aromas depending on the degree of the driver. More and more winemakers are going to the cooperages to choose the wood and especially the type of heating to give the taste they are looking for. Vanilla aromas betray a light warmth. A more intense burn gives a toasted caramel and caramel nose. Second, it refines the tannins. The drying tannins of wine and woody woods combine to bring suppleness and fat. Finally, it provides oxygen. Unlike a stainless steel tank, lemnul allows micro-oxygenation of the wine necessary for its aging.

Why choose oak barrels?

Along with walnut and chestnut, this essence is the richest in tannins. The proof? In the past, cabinetmakers avoided oak as a support for plywood. In fact, over time, the tannins migrate to the veneers, darkening them and degrading the surface marquetry. Since then, it has not been replaced by beech.

The role of barrel size

The size of the container affects the livestock. In a barrel (225 liters for Bordeaux, 228 liters for Burgundy), the wine is much more in contact with wood and air. So it will ripen faster and take on a more woody taste. In a large barrel (600 liters) or lightning (10 to 200 hl), the wine will patina more slowly and especially retain its fruit aromas.

New or old barrels?

You have probably noticed, in the data sheets, the mention of barrels of several wines. This means that the wine has been aged in barrels that have already been used. A used, second-hand barrel promotes aging without affecting the taste of the wine too much. A new barrel, richer in tannins, leaves a more woody taste.

But beware: only powerful varieties, such as Cabernet in Bordeaux, resistant to new wood. Wines that are too light or too simple will be crushed by the addition of wood. Le poison is in the dose!

Is wood a guarantee of quality?

For a long time associated wood and wine quality. This belief was well-founded. The winemakers, who used barrels, brought more care, more attention to their vintages. Hence a higher price as well. That is no longer the case today. You can have very good wines aged in stainless steel vats and bad wines coming out of the barrels. The whole question of taste. An unforested red will be tasted on the fruit. A boiled cuvée will wait in the cellar where it develops its tertiary aromas. You will enjoy an unforested white as an aperitif. Wooded, it will go well with white meats or cheese.

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