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Many wines see some time in oak barrels, whether big, small, old, or new. Oak aging can last from a mere three months to several years. White wines can be aged in-barrel for a short time to extract a small amount of oak flavor, and red wines can take a year or more.

Wines that are fermented in barrels are racked off the lees into a clean barrel for aging unless the specific style calls for contact with the lees. This is known as aging “sur lie,” or “on the lees.” Otherwise, wines that are separated from the lees are aerated and clarified by this process, minimizing the risk of developing odors.

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