The Buzz on Barriques: What are they?
What is a barrique?
A barrique is a style and size of barrel used for aging wine and whiskey. Sometimes barrique is used as a synonym for all wine barrels, but there are slight differences in the size of the barrels and in what regions they are typically used.
As if the wine world isn’t confusing enough; even the barrels can be hard to understand. Why they are used, the type of oak and degrees of toastiness (yes, toastiness) are all common topics. One thing that is often overlooked when explaining barrels is the sizes they come in.
For more information on how barriques influence wine, check out this article on Corvina wine.
Whiskey Invest Direct has a fantastic graphic that visualizes the sizes and names of barrels.
(Image source www.whiskyinvestdirect.com)
You may notice that some of these are similar in size.
A barrique holds 225 liters or 59 gallons. This is the most common size of barrel and it originated in Bordeaux, France. Not only are these barrels a convenient size to move and stack, but they provide the right amount of oak that is exposed to the wine.
What other sizes of barrels are there?
There are many different opinions on how many liters each type of barrel will hold. This can be due to variances in the type of liquid used (wine or whiskey most commonly), standards of different countries and regions, and even the barrel maker.
Here is a list of what seems to be the common consensus on barrels typically used for winemaking:
Standard barrel: 200 liters
Barrique barrel: 225 liters (AKA Bordeaux barrel)
Burgundy barrel: 230 liters
Hogshead barrel: 300 liters
Puncheon barrel: 500 liters (sometimes used for Hungarian oak because it is very potent)
Next time you are touring a winery or doing a wine tasting, ask about their barrels! Who knew wood could be so interesting?!
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