Barrel Renewal

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

barrel renewal is a way of saving money on expensive barrels that depreciate very quickly. One method popular in the New World involves shaving the interior of the barrel. A cooper removes the barrel head and shaves off all the pigmented wood from inside the barrel with a plane or grouter. In some cases, the barrel is allowed to dry out a bit, and then the cooper retoasts the inside in order to maintain the all-important buffer between the wine and the wood and seal the wood. This system is not perfect because it is difficult to toast wood that has been permeated by alcohol and is therefore not entirely dry. Retoasting seems most effective on relatively young (two- to three-year-old) barrels. Wine aged in shaved and retoasted older barrels rarely has the subtlety of wine matured in new barrels. Another technique involves removing the wine-soaked part of the barrel with dry ice.