With the steadily growing demand for wine, modern winemakers are more than encouraged to experiment and develop something new. The market is swelling with a new generation of wine and beer enthusiasts who welcome small batches and ingenuity. And so, there is room to play.
Stainless steel wine barrels are the perfect companion to experimental wines for a variety of reasons. First, they come in a variety of sizes, Skolnik offers volumes as small as 5 gallons, so winemakers can fill a barrel properly without having to create a full-sized batch. Additionally, they are less expensive and rare than their oaken counterparts.
Moreover, it is easier to control the flavor. Oak barrels, regardless of age or previous use, can affect the flavor and texture of a wine. The phenols of the barrel interact with the wine inside and depending on time, type of grapes and a myriad of factors, alter the flavor to some degree. If a winemaker doesn’t want their wine to be oakey at all, or wants more control over the level of oak flavor infused with the wine, stainless steel barrels give them that freedom.
Fine wine-making is an art, and just like any other art form, it demands practice and patience. Vincent Van Gogh didn’t just wake up one day and paint Starry Night, he’d been honing his craft for years, beginning with simple drawings as a child. Similarly, a new wine is not simply willed into existence. Stainless steel barrels allow winemakers to try something new, with limited risk or use of resources. And so, with the freedom to experiment, play and even fail, winemakers can dive into their art without reservations…and hopefully without being driven to cut off one’s own ear.