The relationship that links good wines with oak comes from a long time ago because oak barrels have been used in winemaking for many centuries and, in general, most fine wines are aged in this type of casks.
Therefore, today we will see why the wine is kept in oak barrels, what process it meets in them, what are the advantages and everything that has to do with the relationship between wine and oak.
After the fermentation process has been completed, and before the wine is bottled, it is filtered several times to remove the solid waste that may have remained, which makes a young wine raw, rough and immature, so that must settle for a period of time.
For this, the wine can be kept in neutral containers, which can be, for example, stainless steel, cement tanks or large old barrels; or else, it can be stored in relatively new wooden barrels that are not neutral, but affect the development of the wine. Oak barrels are one of those types of barrels that can influence the flavor and aroma of the wine they contain.
The influence of oak
While the wine is aged in an oak barrel, it is undergoing chemical changes in its composition, reaching a more complex structure and smoothing the tougher tannins it contains, among other changes, which are produced since the fermentation process has finished. In turn, while these changes in the wine take place, the contact with the oak wood provides the wine with subtle flavors and aromas that help to give a distinctive touch to the final product, and which will be noticed when tasting it. Bsrrels whiskey
Essentially, the oak gives the wine a greater complexity and distinction in its flavor and aroma; The latter has traits of cinnamon, nutmeg and, in general, spices, while on the palate the influence of oak will be noticed by sweet flavors such as caramel, vanilla and coconut, slightly toasted and smoked.
When the barrel is smaller, when newer, and the more time the wine spends in it, the more the flavors and aromas coming from the oak will be perceived later.
The different types of oak (American and French, for example, which are the most used) and from different regions, give the wine flavors of different intensity and characteristics. The specific effect of each wood in each variety of wine is still the object of discussion and experimentation on the part of many wine producers in the world.
The factors that influence the aged wine in oak barrels can be traced back to where the oak was extracted for the barrel and also how it was processed. To build the barrels, the oak is first cut into narrow pieces that must then be heated to achieve the curvature of the barrel. The method used to heat it and the time of exposure to fire will determine that the oak is more or less roasted or charred.
Some more economical methods have been implemented so that the wine obtains the properties of the oak, but this does not give the same results as the aging in the barrels, naturally.
Surely, many times have tasted a wine whose flavor had all these characteristics because it was aged in oak barrels. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah, are some of the classic red wines that receive this treatment.