A wide variety of woods from acacia, eucalyptus, chestnut, cherry, palm, pine and cedar have been used to produce wine barrels since ancient times. Wooden barrels were hardly known in ancient Greece, but the Greek historian Herodotus (482-425 BC) reports of such in the city Babylon made from palm wood. It is considered fairly certain that the Celts Already two to a millennium before the era wooden barrels were used for transport and the Romans took over this artistry from them. The most suitable wood for wine storage or the Barrique but that is the oak. It is one of the hardest woods, is tough, very durable and still easy to work with. In addition, the nature of the ring-shaped pores prevents liquids from entering the wood. This is ideal for the construction of all kinds of vessels, especially for barrels.
Last but not least, oak wood has a natural affinity for wine. The French recognized this very early on and have been using it for centuries for the type of barrel created in Bordeaux Barrique, There are around 300 oak species worldwide, but only three taxonomic Quercus white oak species are used for the wooden barrels. Two of them are growing in Europe. This is the winter oak, holm oak or sessile oak (Quercus sessiliflora or petraea), as well as the summer oak or pedunculate oak (Quercus robur or pedunculata). The third is the American white oak (Quercus alba) with numerous species. As a rule, American oak yields more astringent and more aromatic wines than the European one. For the sake of completeness, the oak species Quercus suber should be mentioned, from whose bark the cork come.
Wood from at least 80 to 100 year old trees is used for the oak barrels. After completion, they will be the toasting (Barrel firing) subjected. A distinction is made between three groups of wooden phenols Barrique get into the wine. The primary ones are leached out directly, the secondary ones are formed chemically and microbially from the wood phenols, and thirdly there are those that are produced by breaking down the oak component lignin arise. The most important of these aromatic substances are Eugenole. furfural. lactones. tannins. terpenes and vanillin, Fine-pored woods release these substances slowly and in smaller quantities and coarse-pored wood quickly and in larger quantities. The grain size is expressed in French, for example, for fine-pored wood with "grain fin" and for coarse-pored wood with "grain gros".
Until the beginning of the 20th century, the oak wood came mainly from Poland, Latvia and Estonia. Today the woods come mainly from France and North America. The American oaks of the Quercus alba species grow mainly in the dry forests of eastern North America. The main manufacturing states are Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota,...