Ask Wine Wizard
Varnish on Mini Barrels
Pete Gabriel — Mullica Hill, New Jersey asks,
I received a 10-L (2.75 gallon) oak barrel as a gift. The exterior of this barrel is finished with a light varnish. I am concerned that the varnish will interfere with the oxygen permeability of the barrel, negating any microoxygenation benefits of barrel aging. But, considering I’m dealing with a very small size, I know I won’t be leaving the wine in for very long. So perhaps it is not a concern? I would appreciate any advice you might have. I’ve read your article on small-batch barrels but couldn’t find any mention of varnish.