For a couple thousand years, wooden barrels were used almost exclusively for aging wine. And although the emergence of ‘stainless steel’ aging is not new to the wine world, when considering your personal wine preferences it is helpful to know what you are sipping on.
Historically, even white wines that weren’t meant to have any ‘oaky’ characteristics were aged in older, more worn out wooden barrels. Due to a high degree of unpredictability and inconsistency, this practice was abandoned for the use of stainless steel tanks.
The beauty of the stainless steel tanks is they are inherently neutral; they impart no influence on the flavor of the wine, allowing the natural occurring flavors of the grapes to be showcased. This is ideal for white wines in which a fruit forward flavor is desired. The absence of the oak influence will allow the fruit to shine while maintaining a fresh, crisp quality, resulting in a dry, refreshing white wine. I often refer to our steel aged wines as ‘cocktail’ wines, because they are great for afternoon sipping and do not necessarily need to pair with food to be truly appreciated. That being said, stainless steel aged white wines like our Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Rose pair wonderfully with lighter fare including shellfish, goat cheese, and sushi.
By no means is steel aging superior to barrel aging or vice versa. Quality red wines are almost always aged in oak, along with many wonderful white wines. It is truly a case of using the best tool for the job, or in this case, the best vessel.
Cheers to steel,