Aging barrel


Aging barrel

An aging barrel is a barrel used to age wine or distilled spirits such as whiskey, brandy, or rum.

When a wine or whiskey/whisky ages in a barrel, small amounts of oxygen are introduced as the barrel lets some air in (compare to microoxygenation where oxygen is deliberately added). Oxygen enters a barrel when water or alcohol is lost due to evaporation, a portion known as the "angel's share". In an environment with 100% relative humidity, very little water evaporates and so most of the loss is alcohol, a useful trick if one has a wine with very high proof. Most wines are topped up from other barrels to prevent significant oxidation, although others such as vin jaune are not.

Wine aged in small new oak barrels (Barrique) takes on some of the compounds in the barrel, such as vanillin and wood tannins. The presence of these compounds is dependent on many factors, including the place of origin, how the staves were cut and dried, and degree of "toast" applied during manufacture. After roughly three years, most of a barrel's flavor compounds have been leached out and it is well on its way to becoming "neutral."

The tastes yielded by French and American species of oak are slightly different, with French oak being subtler, while American oak gives stronger aromas. [http://www.robertmondavi.com/WineFacts/oakBarrel.asp Oak Barrels: French vs. American] ] To retain the desired measure of oak influence, a winery will replace a certain percentage of its barrels every year, although this can vary from 5 to 100%. Some winemakers use "200% new oak", where the wine is put into new oak barrels twice during the aging process.

Bulk wines are sometimes flavored by soaking oak chips in them instead of barrel aging.

Barrels used for aging are typically made of oak, but chestnut and redwood are not unknown. Some Asian traditions (e.g. Japanese sake) have been known to use Japanese cedar, which imparts an unusual, minty/piney flavor. And in Latin America, "Pisco" is aged in earthenware: minerals from the fired clay leach into the liquor giving it a unique flavor.

Even dating back to the 1st century, Pliny the Elder described how aging barrels were used by wine producers in the Alps.

Beer

Specialty beers are also sometimes aged in barrels which were previously used in aging harder spirits, thus imparting characteristic and distinctive flavors to the beer. Lambic beers are aged in used wine barrels. Porters are sometimes aged in bourbon barrels.

Angel's share

Angel's share is a term for the portion (share) of a wine or distilled spirit's volume that is lost to evaporation during aging in oak barrels. The barrels are typically French or American oak. In low humidity conditions the loss to evaporation may be primarily water. However, in higher humidities, more alcohol than water will evaporate, therefore reducing the alcoholic strength of the product.

ee also

*Glossary of wine terms
*Oak (wine)

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Barrel (disambiguation) — Barrel can refer to: * barrel, a cylindrical container, specifically: ** aging barrel, for aging alcoholic beverages ** Barrel (volume) a unit of volume * barrel (horology), a watch component * barrel (unit), several different units of volume *… …   Wikipedia

  • Barrel — For other uses, see Barrel (disambiguation). For the use of oak aging barrels in wine, see Oak (wine). Traditional oak barrels in Chile …   Wikipedia

  • Aging of wine — Bottles of wine in an underground cellar aging The aging of wine, and its ability to potentially improve wine quality, distinguishes wine from most other consumable goods. While wine is perishable and capable of deteriorating, complex chemical… …   Wikipedia

  • Travellers One Barrel Rum — is a rum originating from Belize distilled from fermented molasses. It has a medium, balanced subtle taste most often served straight, with water or ice or mixed in cocktails. It is also a winner of Gold Medals Dark Rum category at International… …   Wikipedia

  • Single barrel bourbon — is a term that describes a premium class of bourbon whiskey in which each bottle comes from an individual charred oak barrel, instead of being the product of many different barrels blended for uniformity of color and taste. The whiskey from each… …   Wikipedia

  • Oak (wine) — Oak Wine Barrels The use of oak plays a significant role in winemaking and can have a profound effect on the resulting wine, affecting the color, flavor, tannin profile and texture of the wine. Oak can come into contact with wine in the form of a …   Wikipedia

  • Wine cave — Wine caves are subterranean structures for the storage and aging of wine. They are an integral component of the wine industry world wide. The design and construction of wine caves represents a unique application of underground construction… …   Wikipedia

  • Whiskey thief — A whiskey thief is a tool that master distillers use to extract small portions of whiskey from an aging barrel for sampling or quality control. The old fashioned ones are made typically of copper and resemble a drinking straw in design. It has a… …   Wikipedia

  • Madeira wine — Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. The wine is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines which can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines more usually consumed with dessert. Cheaper… …   Wikipedia

  • Rioja (wine) — Infobox Wine Region name = Rioja official name = other name = type = Wine region country = Spain total size = convert|75|mi|km planted = convert|123000|acre|km2 vineyards = 14 thousand grapes = Tempranillo, Granacha, Graciano, Mazuelo varietals …   Wikipedia