Barrel tasting in wine country
One educational activity a wine lover can experience is barrel tasting in wine country. Barrel tasting in wine country is a general term that wineries use for tasting wine that is aging either in a stainless steel tank, as seen in the photo, or taking a sample of wine from the barrel. In general, white wine is sampled from the stainless steel tank and red wines from the barrel. The 2014 vintage has been completed and most of the wines are in the tank. It is a great experience to taste fresh white wine juice as it ferments or as it sits aging in the stainless steel tank. Finding a winery that allows visitors to taste from the tank or barrel is not that easy. Some winery tours offer barrel tasting and others offer barrel tasting only to their wine club members. One association offers a huge weekend event strictly for barrel tasting at all of its member wineries. WineRoad.com represents wineries in the Healdsburg and Russian River areas of Sonoma County. Each March they have a two-weekend event of “Barrel Tasting.” See the Wine Road for complete barrel tasting activities.
For tasting out of the stainless steel tank, the winemaker will simply need to turn the spigot on the tank. The barrel is a little more involved. The bung on the barrel must be removed. The winemaker inserts a glass tool called a wine thief and draws wine from the barrel. The winemaker holds his or her thumb on top of the wine thief and then releases the thumb over the glass. Most young tank or barrel samples are very fruity, young- tasting wine. It is fun to compare a wine that has been aging for a year from one that is from the most recent harvest. The difference is dramatic.