Toasting Barrels

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You probably know that the toasty aroma and taste in many wines comes from barrels used to either ferment or age in. But do you know why? When a winemaker orders barrels from a cooperage, he or she can request the barrels be toasted on the inside to his or her specifications. The barrels are actually turned upside down over an open flame and charred on the inside. Choices available are light, medium or heavy toast. Usually light toast is not enough to impact on the wine and heavy is too much, often resulting in a smoky note. What most producers tend to request is medium toast, that when combined with length of time wine spends in it, results in satisfactory oak complexity.

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