Glossary

Barrel

A wooden, roughly cylindrical vessel made of staves hooped together, with slightly bulging sides and flat parallel ends.

Barrique

A barrel of approximately 225 litre capacity. This is the standard barrel of the Bordeaux region largely favoured by winemakers world wide.

Bilge

The central bulge of a barrel where its diameter is greatest. The bilge acts as a pivot to make rolling and rotating the barrel easier. It also provides a low point for solids and sediment to collect in when the barrel is stored horizontally.

Bung

A stopper for a barrel made so as to seal the bung hole.

Bung Hole

The hole in a barrel through which liquid is poured in or drained out.

Chamfer

The angled ends of the staves.

Chime

The ‘head’ end of the stave. This is the part of the stave where the groove (Croze) and chamfer are cut.

Cooper

One who makes or repairs articles made of staves and hoops such as barrels, casks and the like.

Cooperage

The workshop or place of business of a cooper.

Croze

The continuous groove at the end of the staves in which the head is fitted. Also the name of the tool used to make this groove.

Grain

The arrangement, direction or pattern of fibres in wood.

Head

Either of the wooden disks forming the ends of a barrel.

Hogshead

A barrel of approximately 300 litre capacity. Originally a unit of measurement varying according to the liquid concerned, it is a centuries old term the origin of which is unexplained.

Hoop

Any of the metal bands that bind together the staves of a barrel. Known individually as the (working from the centre upwards) Bilge, Quarter and Chime (or Head) hoops.

Oak

The timber harvested from trees of the Quercus genus traditionally used in barrel manufacture.

Puncheon

A barrel of approximately 475 litre capacity.

Seasoning

The process of drying and hardening timber for use through exposure to the elements.

Shive

A longer wooden bung used for long term sealing.

Spile

A small tapered conical spike used for sealing a hole in a barrel.

Stave

One of the shaped wooden pieces that form the body of a barrel.

Tannin

Common name for tannic acid and some related chemical structures. Naturally occurring phenolic compounds found in grape skins, pips and stalks and also in Oak barrels. Tannins provide flavour, structure and texture to wine and; because of their antioxidant traits, contribute to long and graceful aging of good red wines.  From the Latin ‘tannum’ literally meaning ‘Oak bark’ – a substance originally used in the tanning of hides.

Toasting

The process of heating the inside of a barrel slowly over an Oak fuelled fire during manufacture. Toasting effects the physical and chemical composition of the Oak, with the heat caramelising sugars in the wood creating new compounds that add to the complexity of the wine, impacting on the flavour and aromatic characteristics during barrel aging.