The secret of wood
Wood has always had a close link in the wine-oenological supply chain; its essential properties such as porosity, elasticity and strength allow the warm wood to undergo a different refinement and stabilization phase capable of creating the bouquet, namely the set of olfactory perceptions found in wine, soft and persistent.
In fact, during the refinement process, the chemical reactions in wine take place slowly and over time and are essential for the stabilization of the colour, for the softening of the tannins and for the creation of its fragrance. The use of wooden barrels favours these reactions.
During the aging phase in wooden barrels, the tannins of the skins are added to the wood’s tannins which, since they are considerably less aggressive, make the wine softer. Furthermore, wood allows oxygen to filter in small quantities, thus attenuating tannins.
Wine vinification also varies according to the essence, or rather the type of wood with which the barrel that contains it was built. The most common essences are oak, chestnut and cherry. Inside the small barrels, a greater surface-volume ratio is ensured to which the wine is exposed. Instead, in large barrels, also called “Tonneau”, the surface in contact with the liquid, for the same volume, is smaller and the thicker staves prevent the entry of oxygen. Oxidation is hardly present and the chemical reactions in the wine are essentially limited to the polymerizations of the tannins, therefore the wine maintains its organoleptic characteristics almost intact.
Finally, the different level of insulation that wooden barrels guarantee, both thermal and against oxygen and the oxidative phenomena it produces, is essential. The greater air-tightness provides a barrier to the evaporation of water and alcohol which is much more effective and has an impact on the concentration of the final product.