Wine Word of the Week: Barrel aging

By Kori ~ July 24th, 2012.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is barrel aging.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Barrel maturation [the term used in this book for aging a wine in a barrel] is the wine-making operation of storing a fermented wine in wooden barrels to create ideal conditions for the components of the wine to evolve and so that the wood imparts some oak flavor. This is an increasingly common practice for superior-quality still wines of all colors and styles, providing them, as it does, with the ideal preparation for bottle aging.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Barrel aging is the process of letting wines mature in wood barrels. During this process, the characteristics of the barrel are imparted into the wine and affect the flavor and balance of the wine.

Filed under: Wine Word of the Week

Reader's Comments

  1. Chad T | July 26th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Can you offer any layman’s terms as to the differences that oak coming from different countries can have on the wine? Also, what about the classifications of oak? I’m pretty sure this exists in france. Do the Americans and Slovenians have something similar?

  2. Kori | August 9th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    American barrels are wider grained (more porous); therefore, they impart less tannins and often give the impression of sweetness and vanilla. French barrels typically cost 2 or 3 times an American barrel, and they are finer grained and impart more tannins. All barrels can be “toasted” according to winemaker specifications to further change the flavors. And, new barrels impart more flavors than previously used barrels. Cheers!