Wooden barrels have been used in winemaking since the pre-Christian era. In early days, barrels were used for fermentation, storage, and transportation of wine. The winemakers realized that storage of wine in barrels improved wine quality. However, they also became aware of the problems associated with storage in barrels. The major concerns were the loss of wine due to evaporation, which led to oxidation and acetic spoilage of wine, and the difficulty in maintaining wooden barrels in good sanitary condition.
Significant variation occurs in the composition of oak heartwood. There are many factors that contribute to this variation. These include: differences within a tree, age of the tree, rate of growth, soil and climate of the region, and more importantly, the genetic differences between various species.
Dr. Aude Watrelot