Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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(chauffe in French), given to a barrel towards the end of the process of forming it over a heat source, is one of the processes in barrel making that most obviously affect eventual wine flavour. The heat source also inevitably toasts the inside of the barrel to a degree that varies according to the heat of the fire and the length of time the barrel is held over it. This heating process dramatically alters the wood’s physical and chemical composition. The toasted wood provides a buffer between the alcohol in wine and the tannins in wood. In general, the less a barrel is toasted, the more tannins and other wood characteristics will be leached into the wine by the alcohol. Wine matured in lightly toasted barrels therefore tends to taste ‘oaky’, ‘woody’, or even ‘vegetal’, while wine matured in heavily toasted barrels is more likely to taste ‘toasty’ or ‘spicy’. See also oak flavour.