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Cooper: A wine barrel maker.
Cooperage: The facility where wine barrels are made.
Barrel Making: After the wood for a barrel is cut and dried, the cooper heats the wood while shaping it into a barrel. Steam, natural gas, boiling water, the burning of oak chips or some combination of these is used in the three-part heating process. The first application of heat (the warming stage) is called chauffage, the bending of the wooden staves into a barrel shape is called cintrage and, finally, the toasting of the wood for flavor is called bousinage.
Toasted Barrels: As a barrel is being constructed, but before the heads at either end are added, the cooper (barrel maker) chars the inside edges of the staves. This final treatment imparts aromas of vanilla, spice and smoke to the wood and then the wine. Char levels include light, medium and heavy toast. Winemakers order barrels with their favorite levels of toast to influence their wine styles.
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