Cathal McBride on wine: Allow the grape to sing aloud without oak

Non-reactive, hard-wearing, easy to clean and less costly than oak barrels, the use of stainless steel tanks has become increasingly popular with winemakers

Ageing in stainless steel makes economic sense as well as showcasing the pure fruit qualities of the grape. Picture: Getty

Wine is steeped in a multitude of traditions and one profound example is the use of oak. Originally used to store and transport wine, wooden barrels have since become an integral part of the winemaking tradition from Bordeaux to Rioja and beyond.

Many types of grapes, however, particularly white varieties, are not suitable for ageing in oak. In these cases, the use of stainless steel, amphora and concrete in the winemaking process offer exciting vinicultural ...