Any liquid, grape juice, wine and oak barrels are tightly intertwined since the III century BC when fragile clay was replaced by wood handicrafts.
Barrel maker is one of the oldest professions. Other skilled workmen also were called as hoop makers and tubbers. Artisans made wooden barrels, coops and other hoop products. Time passed, and cooperage business knowledge imparted and upgraded for generations. In spite of passing the calendar years and increasing of the range of alternative cheaper and more practical products for storage and transportation of liquids, traditions have always been highly valued. Therefore as before, amateurs and professionals use only high-quality oak barrels in wine industry.
Barrels of wood were used in past and present days not only by winemakers. What a wonderful home storage can be stored in the barrel! What kind of bath or sauna can you imagine without oak barrels? But, of course, the most common use of barrels is in production of alcohol drinks.
Would we learn about the world-famous brands of wine, if there were not any oak barrels? Many white wines, almost all red wines, the best cognacs and brandies are grateful for flavor and aromas to oak.
Despite the variety that oak wood gives to the future drink, today there is a tendency to use cheaper containers or even to abandon them. First of all it is due to the high cost of oak barrels. But if you want to get high quality results, you cannot do without use of quality materials from cover to cover.
Juice, getting into the barrel, contacts with wood, becomes a complex that includes several elements. We appreciate the softness and unique taste and flavor of alcoholic drink, and to achieve it is possible only because of chemical processes of oxidation and fret of the juice and oak solution that have a grippy and slightly bitter taste.
The effect, that oak barrel delivered on wine, was discovered entirely by accident. French scientists have decided to test and prove that the wine, maturing in oak barrels, as ultimate result is a “clean and whole matter without damaging forms.” In the future wine researchers added a wide variety of harmful bacteria and pesticides. The liquid was placed into oak barrels and they left it for six months. After a while, the analysis showed that both the wine and the barrel were perfectly clean – no trace of impurities neither on wood nor in the drink. Therefore, doctors recommend drinking wine in moderate quantity as a drink of longevity because of the tannin component, which is such an essential antioxidant.
Oak barrels are meaningful not only because of the tannin. Pouring a drink into a glass you, first of all, enjoy the aroma. Oak and coconut notes of the drink appear after the drying of wood: one gives a spicy bouquet, other one is more herbaceous. American oak contains all these in large quantities. Aromas of vanilla and freshly baked bread are achieved by burning wood, but heavy fire reduces oak aromaticity.
Thanks to the porous structure of sides of the barrel, wine or whiskey saturated with sufficient oxygen. Such influence helps the future drink to aging rapidly; acquire soft and velvety taste, fruit tannins are mixed with oak. Process of drink oxygen saturation depends on the volume of the barrel. The more oak barrel, the sides of the container are thicker, and then less oxygen is contacted with the liquid and the wood.
To produce good barrels only the best wood is chosen. Therefore, a tree selected carefully according to the age, it must be older than 70 years old, and the structure must be free of checks and various burrs. American oak is different from other types by aromaticity and density of wood.
Some people do not want to buy ready-made oak barrels and are trying to saturate the drink by adding pieces of wood – shavings, chips, plates. They are dipped into the barrel as a tea bag in a cup. But connoisseurs of wine and winemakers who respect themselves and their customers do not want to resort to cheap tricks, comparing such preparation of drink with simple cheap food from hash house. After all, the impact of artificial wood on the wine structure, does not give it that sophisticated charm and nobility.
Therefore, choosing the oak barrel, you choose magic. Only in this way the process of transformation of juice into an elegant drink can be qualified and will bring pleasure to you and your guests as true connoisseurs.