ArticleWooden it be Lovely?Written by Paul DunseathOne of the most enduring — and evocative — images in the winemaking world is that of the barrel room. Virtually every commercial vintner has one, and it’s among the “must sees” on any winery tour. Besides its symmetrical beauty and photo-op appeal, the barrel room indicates that the vintner is shooting for an elusive quality in his wine. Barrel aging is one of the common denominators in wines that reach beyond the ordinary. Although the use of barrels is traditional in fine winemaking, it is also a labor-intensive and potentially troublesome part of the process. So why should you, as an amateur, consider aging your wine in oak? Well, first of all, because you will be enhancing the quality of your wine; and also because, if you are a traditionalist, you will be following in the footsteps of winemakers who date back at least 2,500 years. By buying a five-gallon (19 liter) barrel, a home hobbyist can produce wines that rival the finest of Europe — or any other region, for that matter. Barrels cost more than glass carboysAlready a member? Log InYou'll Also Like Article MEMBERS ONLY Build a Temperature-Controlled Wine Storage Box A home winemaker from California’s Sierra Foothills shares his design for an air-conditioned wine storage room he built for his garage. Article MEMBERS ONLY The Essential Ins and Outs of Oak Barrels Aging your wine in an oak barrel can do wonders for your wine. It can also ruin it. Before you dive in head first, learn all there is to know about aging in oak. Plus: Using oak alternatives.