Let’s keep learning about wines.
After talking about the different types of fermentation, we will dedicate this post to barrels, wooden tanks made by staves and hoops (metallic rings) used to ferment or aging the wine in wood.
Even if we popularly know every wooden tank as a barrel, the truth is, depending on its form and capacity we can call it different names. The most common ones are the oval barrels, the bordeaux barriques, the botas (typical 500 litres barrel from Jerez in the south of Spain, made of american oak) and the casks.
The oval barrel is the smallest one, with a capacity of 1 to 15 litres, it is mostly used to save the wine which has already been produced and serve it directly from that same tank. The 15 litres ones are sometimes also used for special sweet wines productions.
The bordeaux barrique, used for fermentation and aging, is the most common one and can usually store 225 litres of wine but they can also be bigger, up to 300 and 500 litres.
The bota is a much bigger barrel with a 1.500 litres capacity and more hoops than the previous one.
The cask is a barrel in the form of a truncated cone, which can be standing or laying and is able to store 1.000 to 5.000 litres approximately.
Barrels can also be differentiated by the type of wood they are made from. Even if hungarian, slovenian, russian or spanish oaks among others can be used, the most common ones are the french oak, which provides with more spiced aromas but always respecting the wines fruit character, and the american oak with intense vanilla and coconut aromas.
Finally, the barrel’s type of toasting is also important since it can vary from light to very strong. Depending on how soft or strong the toasting is, the aromas will be intensified while the vanilla and soft toasted notes will disappear giving way to an increase of the smoky and high-roasted ones.