What happens after wine is put into a barrel? Ask a Winemaker Wednesday

We had a great question come through the DM this last week regarding the vineyard.

by Marty and Ryan Johnson

Join us each Wednesday as we share Marty and Ryan Johnson’s answers to their, “Ask a Winemaker Wednesday” over at Ruby Magdalena Vineyards.


What happens after wine is put into a barrel?

While aging in barrels (elevage), wine goes through a slow molecular process called micro-oxygenation where a small amount of air enters the barrel through the tight but porous wood structure. This slow ingress of oxygen causes molecular changes in the aging wine that increases complexity and softens harsh tannins and acids. There are many things happening in those barrels. Absorption of softer tannins from the oak, polymerization (“clustering”) of many different phenolic compounds, absorption of more aromatic and savory compounds. Settling of wine solids also occurs, clearing the wine, and the final stages of malolactic fermentation, where a lactic acid bacteria (Usually Oenococcus oeni) metabolizes harsh malic acid (think of tart green apples) into lactic acid (the acid found in milk and dairy products) as well as producing CO2. During the time that the wine is in the barrel, the wine can absorb many different flavors from the oak such as: vanilla, coconut, baking spices, and smoky notes. But that’s information for another day!

Follow us to keep learning about the wonderful, complex process of how we create what has been called the most complex fluid on the planet (wine, duh) from our little 1.5-acre parcel of ground in Washington State.

Read last week’s question here

Do you want to learn something about

  • Winemaking?
  • Grape growing?
  • How we farm the land?
  • Our garden?
  • Why we do the things we do?
  • Or even that quirky couple, Marty & Ryan???

You can find Marty, Ryan and Magdalena Vineyards on FacebookInstagram and of course at rubymagdalenavineyards.com

Photographs | Ruby Magdalena Vineyards

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