Chapter 21

The Role of Oak in Winemaking

Life Cycle of Wine Barrels

When they are used again and again the amount of oak derived by the wine is reduced requiring more time to age wine in a barrel, to extract the desired flavor. The inside surface of the barrel is also gradually covered by cream of tartar and color compounds, which prevents further extraction of aromatic compounds and oxygen migration into the barrel. Since a barrel's capacity for oxygenation and to contribute s aromatic compounds to the wine decreases with repeated use, wineries need to ensure the regular turnover of their barrels. The turnover ratio will depend basically on the characteristics of the wine.

Resurfacing Oak Barrels

One approach to renewing barrels is to have a cooper remove one end of the barrel, then shave or plane the interior surface to expose new wood, then toast it. Reconditioning is cheaper than buying new barrels. Resurfacing extends the extractive life of the barrel for another one to three years.

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