This term doesn't mean what you think or how it sounds. There are no wooden barrels to crunch on nor does one lick the barrel. I suppose you could, if you need to add some fiber to your diet or if you like splinters on your tongue. So what can one expect from "Barrel Tasting?"
|Don Redman and Jason Baggett Barrel Tasting|
The term is often used to describe an open house tasting event at a winery or even a private opportunity to taste the wine directly from the barrel (See photo of Don Redman, owner and winemaker of Mannina Cellars in Walla Walla).
So, like why would you want to do that? Like - duh, consider it a "sneak preview" on an early wine that has just gone into the barrels or an older wine that is ready to be bottled. There can be many reasons, depending on what the winemaker's goal is. As an example, the winemaker can offer a tasting of two or more barrels with the same varietal inside, but from different vineyards to show off their distinctive terroirs.
When offered - do it! I recommend to take some notes and come back to the winery once the wine has been bottled, released, and discover how the wine has evolved from your previous barrel tasting notes. And speaking of Barrel Tasting ...
Join us in Walla Walla for the Holiday Barrel Tasting 2012, this weekend December 7-9! And taste for yourself what's in those barrels.
And how does one get the wine out of the barrel and into the glass? Stay tuned, as that is another Weekly Wine Word for Dummies.