Definition - What does Barrel Maturation mean?
The barrel maturation of wine is the process after fermentation where wine is stored in a barrel, usually made of oak, to impart complex oaky, vanilla-like flavor into the wine. In addition to adding flavor, barrel maturation of wine stabilizes the color of wine and softens tannins. This maturation process prepares the wine for bottling.
WineFrog explains Barrel Maturation
Barrel maturation is a process that takes time and requires patience. After fermentation, the wine needs to be racked several times to remove the solid waste. This raw and young wine needs to settle for some time to mature. In this rest period, the wine acquires subtle flavors through complex chemical changes in the barrel.
The barrel slowly induces oxygen into the wine, thereby contributing towards the flavor by imparting a character of the wood into wine. Thus, the wood used to make the barrel can significantly affect the wine’s taste. However, barrel maturation can also take place in a neutral container, of materials such as: stainless steel, cement lined vats, old large casks, etcetera, that does not alter the maturation of wine.