Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Angel's Share

I had a very important Saturday chore to do today: top up our port barrel.  This beautiful 14L oak barrel was a generous gift from a group of friends for our wedding. But ever since we have filled it, it seems to mysteriously develop ullage very quickly!

topping the port barrel
So what exactly is ullage
This is a term used in the winemaking industry to refer to the space between the surface of the wine and the top of the vessel in which it is contained (be that a barrel, stainless steel tank, etc.). 

The angel's share typically develops in barrels over time and refers to the volume that is lost to evaporation.  Depending upon the temperature and humidity, it can be either water or ethanol that is evaporating, so it can slightly affect the alcohol content, hence the need to top up the barrel on a regular basis.

It really was a trying task topping the barrel - I even had to take a before and after sample to ensure consistency of taste!