Wine - Using Oak

Wine - Using Oak

Oak barrels are used by a winemaker to impart complementary flavors and aromas to a wine. Barrels are toasted at various levels from light to medium to heavy, and will be selected, to suit a particular grape variety or style of wine. Additional flavors can also be gained from the complex interaction with yeast 'lies' (or 'lees'), the yeast sediment which will be in contact with the wine.

Barrels are a convenient container in which to store a wine, as the subtle exchanges with oxygen, moisture and alcohol help the wine to evolve from the youthful 'green' to more complex and mature flavors. Many different types of oak are used in the winemaking process, with white oak being the most common. French, Hungarian, and North American oak are the best-known species used, with each one having slightly different attributes. Just as vines and grapes are distinctly individual when grown under different conditions or areas, so are oak trees.

Very few wineries have their own cooperate, preferring to rely more often on purchasing barrels that have been carefully milled, cured and toasted. It is an expensive business and requires a huge investment to be made by the barrel supplies.

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