Professional wine makers have been storing wine in barrels for centuries. The barrels are used to store and age the wine over a period of time. Wine makers have experimented with many types of materials while making barrels with the most common being different types of wood. Throughout history several different varieties of wood have been used to make wine barrels, specifically oak, chestnut, cherry, redwood, and even pine. Today, most wine makers agree that no wood can stand up to oak.
Oak is the clear cut favorite among those in the wine making world, especially for red wines, because of its ability to enhance the flavors of the wine and grapes. The tannins that can be found in most oak barrels tend to give the wines a vanilla like flavor over time without overpowering the grape itself. The oak used in barrel making is usually found in cool, dry places throughout the northern United States and Europe.
While red wines lend themselves nicely to oak barrels, many times white wines are stored in stainless steel barrels and tanks. Stainless Steel barrels are selected over oak barrels for several reasons and the two most popular are expenses and an accelerated aging process. While wines placed in oak barrels need time to age and draw flavors from the wooden barrel, wines in stainless steel tanks are often aged using wood chips or wooden planks suspended in the wine. These barrels also offer the ability to use oxygenation techniques to decrease the amount of time required for the aging process, which means bottles of the wine are available sooner, at a Fair Haven wine store.
When making a decision on wines the process in which it is aged certainly is a huge factor in determining your wine choice. If you like the vanilla and tobacco like flavors that oak barrels provide then that would make your choice an easy one. If you like knowing that each bottle of wine you drink was made from a clean, fresh, steel tank than that choice is also one that you can make with little thought.