Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

barrel, cylindrical container traditionally made from wood and historically used for the storage and transportation of a wide range of goods. Today, barrels are used almost exclusively in the production of fine wines and spirits, and are almost invariably made of wood, although some have experimented with various combinations of stainless steel, clay, concrete, etc. The bulge, or bilge, of barrels means that they can be rolled and spun easily, and that, when they are kept horizontal, any sediment naturally collects in one place, from which the wine can easily be separated by racking. The average worldwide production is one million barrels, with more than half made in France.