Barrel tasting, a term which has been around since barrels were invented, refers to tasting wines throughout their time in barrel. Each year we participate in an event that features hundreds of wines thieved out of the barrel for educational purposes. We believe you, the taster, will gain a better understanding of what goes on with the wine as it ages. Many of us will either feature the 2013 or 2014 vintages depending on the winery (we’ll be thieving our 2013 Merlot) and a younger vintage will display some rougher mouthfeel because the tannins in the wine haven’t been tamed by time. If you read some of my blog posts from January I discussed the importance of oxygen in aging. A little bit over the year or so in barrel will soften the wine and make it more appealing-ready to drink. Bottle aging helps too because again that bit of oxygen exchange also takes place and softens the wine even further. Some questions to ask as you stand at the barrel talking to the winemaker or cellar master might be: What type of oak do you use? How many vintages do you use your barrels? What do you prefer when ordering your barrels, medium or light toast? How long has this wine aged or how long will you age the wine? You get up close and personal with the wine process. There is nothing more personal than having the winemaker thief a sample of his or her pride and joy for you to taste. I’ll be there at the barrel during the weekend-stop by and we’ll discuss the finer points of toast, wood and aging.