What Kind Of Wine Is Best For Aging In An Oak Barrel?
Fancy restaurants always decanter their fine red wines. Those wines have been stored in a bottle for a long period time and that bottle is an anoxic environment which means there is no oxygen present. This concentrates the aromas and flavors of the wine which could be perceived as putrid if the liquid is not exposed to oxygen first. The decanter accelerates this oxygenation.
Oxygen is incredibly important for fine wines and that is why some wine makers like to age their wines in oak barrels. Other wine nuts like to age their own wine at home inside of an oak barrel. The great thing about the oak barrel is that it allows the wine to breathe and interact with the oxygen around it while saving it from spoilage. In fact, a prolonged aging will cause the wine to evaporate some which causes the wine to concentrate its flavors.
The wine will expand when the temperature rises. This allows the wine to seep into the wood in the barrel, waving its way through the natural grain. Then, when the weather cools down at night, the wine retreats back into the reservoir. This actively pulls flavor out of the wood. Oak is said to impart earthy notes into the wine. Mocha and toffee are often imparted along with cinnamon, caramel, cream, smoke, spice and vanilla, coconut, and cloves.
These earthy tones really work well with most red wines. Red wines already have that earthy tone to them and the oak barrel aging should only enhance the flavor. It is red wine that needs oxygen in order to produce the best flavor and the oak barrel allows red wines to breathe effectively.
The red wine should be a quality wine. The structure of the grapes and the quality of the grape’s flavors need to stand up to the oak flavors that will be imparted. Do not try an age a cheap bottle of red wine because it will come out of the barrel tasting like the oak. A good red wine will be balanced and complimented by the oak aging process.
Chardonnay is the only white wine that should be aged in an oak barrel. This will give the wine a deeper color and enhance the flavor. You can often taste the coconut and cloves with an aged chardonnay. A quality red wine or a chardonnay will age best in an oak barrel.