There is a long history of combining wine and timber going back to antiquity. The container of choice for the ancient Egyptians and Romans was clay amphorae rather than timber containers, but these were both fragile and impractical. It is believed that when the Romans conquered Gaul they noticed the locals transporting beer in timber barrels and started using these to transport wine as these were easier to handle and harder to break. It was later discovered that the wood, particularly oak, gave the wine properties that improved it by making it softer and, in some cases, better-tasting.
Wines can be barrel fermented in oak or placed in oak after fermentation for a period of ageing. Wine matured in oak receives more oak flavors and properties than wine fermented in oak because yeast cells present in fermentation interact with and “latch on” to oak components. When dead yeast cells are removed as lees some oak properties go with them.
The porous nature oak allows small amounts of oxygen to pass through the barrel and act as a softening agent but typically not at levels that would cause oxidation or spoilage, and allows the wine to concentrate its flavor and aroma compounds. The chemical properties of oak can have a profound effect on wine. Phenols within the wood interact to produce vanilla type flavors and can give the impression of tea notes or sweetness. The degree of “toast” on the barrel can also impart different properties affecting the tannin levels as well as the aggressive wood flavors.
Characteristics of white wines fermented in oak include a pale colour and extra silky texture. White wines fermented in steel and matured in oak will have a darker colouring due to heavy phenolic compounds still present. Flavor notes commonly used to describe wines exposed to oak include caramel, cream, smoke, spice and vanilla. Chardonnay is a varietal with very distinct flavor profiles when fermented in oak, which include coconut, cinnamon and cloves notes. The “toastiness” of the barrel can bring out varying degrees of mocha and toffee notes in red wine.
The length of time a wine spends in the barrel is dependent on the varietal and finished style the winemaker desires. The majority of oak flavouring is imparted in the first few months the wine is in contact with oak, while longer term exposure adds light barrel aeration, which helps precipitate phenolic compounds and quickens the ageing process.
Given their long history and symbiotic relationship, it is only natural to combine your corporate wine gifts with a stunning timer wine box. Wine By Design have a wide range of elegant timber wine boxes that are made to order with different branding options and our attention to detail will ensure the presentation of your corporate wine gift in it’s custom timber wine box will be truly memorable.
Next time you need to impress a discerning client, let us complete the feel of your corporate wine gifts with a unique timber wine box to really set it apart.
Custom Timber Wine Boxes
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