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The wine world has standardized the ageing barrel as the "small oak" cask of around 225 litres capacity. This is the size of the traditional Bordeaux barrique. The Burgundy piece, is 228 litres, that of Champagne 220. The size became the norm because two men can easily handle such a cask. But it also provides the optimum surface area of oak to wine. Smaller casks provide more oak-contact, but are uneconomic; bigger ones lessen the interchange between wood and wine.

Now that casks are no longer used to transport the wine, thinner wood can be used. The thickness of the staves matters: a Bordeaux barricfue is made from fairly thin wood, which allows transpiration of a small amount of oxygen. Thicker wood lowers the oxygen intake.

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