gigantic wine aging barrel we saw on our tour of some woodinville, wa wineries the other day! 😀 i’m not a huge fan of wine, but we tasted like 15 different kinds, and it was certainly and interesting experience. i learned a lot about what goes into wine, and how much barrels like this go into flavoring wine.

for example, french oak aging barrels like in the photo above cost around $11,000 brand new. after a single “vintage” of wine production (1 to 2 years) their cost is cut in half.  the same is true of american oak barrels, but brand new they cost only about $500!  american and french oak impart very different flavors, american oak is strongly vanilla, whereas french oak is lightly vanilla with hints of chocolate, and is generally a more gentle flavor.  especially after its first vintage.  cheap wine or table wine (aka <$12 a bottle) usually isn’t aged in oak barrels, but its flavor is given the complexity added by oak via oak chips, or in the case of exceptionally cheap wine, oak dust or sawdust.  these and any other sediments are strained out of the winewhen it is bottled. from the moment a wine grape is plucked from the vine it will be at least three years before it reaches the shelf at your local winery. 🙂

i felt very fancy on this tour!  in fact i felt quite underage and underdressed (i’m only turning 24 in may), and i don’t think i could have ever afforded this trip out of pocket, but my partner was very fortunate to win an all inclusive pass for two at a drawing held by chinook book at seattle’s green fest last year. 😀

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