• Wood in the aging of wine: the 8 most used

    «¡Es la guerra, traed madera!» shouted Grouxo Marx in the Spanish version of the movie The Marx Brothers in the West. And although this didn’t happen in the original version, we agree that on a planet like the one we inhabit, with its forests, wood  is one of the main elements that man has worked with, specially for wine aging.

    Between the Stone Age and the Metal Age we could speak of the Wood Age, as there is evidence that this was the main material used to build houses more than 10,000 years ago. Of course, we could also talk about the bow and arrow, the raft or other boats, the tables and seats, the bridges, the carriages and the wheel… however, today we are going to talk about another very important application of wood in history: the barrel for wine aging.

    Origin of the use of wood in wine aging

    Although it seems easy to locate the origin of wood in the use of winemaking in Ancient Rome, along with amphorae, there is evidence that the Celts of northern Europe already manufactured them for this purpose. While the wineskin and the animal skins were satisfactorily used for wine storage, as well as the clay pots and jars, it was discovered that the wood contributed to its elaboration, giving it nuances otherwise impossible to achieve. This placed the wooden barrel as the best option for wine aging, allowing a better refinement and rounding of the broth, and therefore make it more palatable.

    The Oak barrel is one of the most popular for wine aging.
    Oak barrels in wine aging.

    What does wood contribute to wine aging?

    Wood contributes to the production and aging of wine thanks to its porous surface that micro-oxygenates the broth, softening its texture, reducing bitterness and maturing its character. This reduces fruity aromas and increases secondary and tertiary aromas. In addition, it enriches the wine with its own tannins and aromatic compounds.

    But if there is a variable that directly affects the impact that the wooden barrel may have on the evolution of wine, in addition to its origin, this is size. The larger the size, the lower the incidence, being the usual use of 225 liter or 500 liter barrels. But, what does wood exactly contribute to wine aging? Let’s see it:


    When it comes into contact with the wood, the wine enhances its tonality thanks to the reaction caused by the tannins in the barrel.


    Wood provides nuances of toast, spices, chocolate, smoke, tobacco, caramel, coffee, vanilla or coconut, all depending on the wood used and the level of toasting.


    Wood stabilizes the wine and softens its texture thanks to the contribution of tannins, which round out the result on the palate, generally sweetening it. In addition, in the same way that it does with the aroma, it adds nuances to the flavor that are impossible to achieve with the use of other materials.

    4 essential oak barrels

    It is common that the most used wood to manufacture wine barrels is oak, with 4 essential varieties:

    1. Spanish oak: Also known as Iberian oak. It is a high quality wood, somewhat soft and scarce due to deforestation, which gives the wine notes of caramel and coffee.
    2. French oak: Perhaps the most valued. They are woods that respect the characteristics of the wine, molding them without changing them excessively.
    3. European oak: Similar to French, it is grown in Hungary, Romania and Croatia. It is a somewhat rougher wood with little aromatic release that respects the fruit more.
    4. American oak: Also known as white oak. It comes from North America. It is a robust, strong and hard oak, with a greater aromatic release.
    Acacia wood tree in Zimbabwe.

    4 other woods that you can’t ignore

    1. Acacia: Used in the maturation and aging of white wines, it can be presented in the form of toasted or unroasted wood. It provides floral aromas and different nuances depending on the periods of permanence of the wine in the barrel.
    2. Cherry: It is one of the preferences of young winemakers, as it provides notes of red fruits and high quality toasted nuances. A wood whose use increases year after year.
    3. Pine: Widely used in the wines that are made in the Canary Islands within the D.O. La Palma, providing spices and an aged appearance.
    4. Chestnut: Widely used in ancient times, it is the characteristic wood used in the aging of Sherry vinegars to which it contributes its specific qualities and characteristics.

    What woods do we use at ANTIGVA?

    The use of barrels is a very personal preference of each producer. At ANTIGVA we achieve art in form of wine thanks to woods such as French Oak in Analema Negre de Nit, American Oak in Selección Cabernet Sauvignon, or Acacia in Analema Blanc de Dia. Although the combination of French Oak and American Oak is always guarantee of success, as can be seen in our ANTIGVA Ribera del Duero wine collection.

  • Harvest time

    The month of August comes to an end and after an intense year of care, pruning and maintenance of the field, for many it is time to prepare for the harvest. While in the southern hemisphere the harvest takes place between the months of February and April, in some regions of the northern hemisphere it begins in August and can take until October, especially to enhance the sugars in the grape that are ideal for making the popularly known fortified wines.

    In the past, the harvest took place a hundred days after the vines sprouted. But in the 21st century, especially in the last decade, the increasingly hot summer season has shortened this ripening period, causing new challenges for winegrowers. Thus, it is not surprising that many winegrowers and wineries are carrying out the harvest before the end of the hottest month of the year. That’s our case: we are ready!

    Previous analysis

    First, we must carry out an exhaustive analysis of the grape, for which we collect some sample grains. Not all varieties mature at the same time, as some are early varieties and others are late varieties. We will find out the degree of maturation, with the percentage relationship between acidity and sugar, which will help us to assess the optimal moment to pick the fruit. We will also study other aspects, such as the state of the seed, or the maturity of the skin, where the tannins and aromas are found. Elements such as altitude, production area, orientation or climate, will determine the result of these analyzes, which is the prior necessary commitment to guarantee the production of quality wines.

    Opting for a manual harvest is the best option to guarantee the production of quality wines.

    Final preparations

    Let’s take that the result of the analytics is satisfactory. The destemmer is ready, the press, the vat and the last recently purchased barrels. Shallow baskets so that the grapes are not crushed, and plastic or wooden containers and boxes, but always of 10-15 kg capacity, will be available by hand, since the selection will be done manually in the vine itself, without harvesters. The bunches will be chosen before they are quickly taken to the winery, guaranteeing that the shortest possible time passes from their collection.

    The harvest will be done at night or first thing in the morning, thus avoiding the high daytime temperatures at this time of year for the harvesters, but also the fermentation of the grapes. The sky and the forecast of rain will always be monitored, since the summer rain at mid-harvest would favor the absorption of water by the grape, reducing its flavors and aromas.

    Other wineries decide to carry out a mechanical harvest. This is an increasingly common practice as it significantly reduces the economic costs of this delicate process, conditioning the type of cultivation that must be carried out on trellises. However, it is the least recommended way if what is intended is to produce high quality wines and high quality sparkling wines.

    The heat favors the fermentation of the grapes.

    Let’s get started! 

    Where? In our case, for the white grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel lo, Garnacha Blanca… These are early varieties that if we do not pick at night, we will do it first thing in the morning, before the first rays of sun that favor less volatile phenolic characteristics. Then, we will repeat the process with the red grapes: Tempranillo, Garnacha Peluda, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon…

    Every bunch of grapes that will arrive as a whole at the selection table will awaken a smile on our face, like the one we hope is reflected in each of the bottles of our collections that will reach the hands of wine lovers and consumers of good wine.

  • Tinto de verano, or red wine in summer? 1 of 2…

    August 15 arrives and the spanish beaches are crowded without or with covid. Wearing a swimsuit, we plant the parasol, we throw the towel on the sand, and open our cooler filled with ice. Cans of soda for the children, and for the grown-ups, a very cool homemade tinto de verano.

    Two hours later, red as crustaceans, we walk to the nearest beach bar or restaurant, being careful not to burn the soles of our feet. We review the menu to finish by ordering some macaroni for the children and a ribeye with potatoes for us. First, a very fresh salad. And to drink? Another tinto de verano, or a red wine?

    What is tinto de verano?

    More than wine, the tinto de verano is a cocktail typical of spanish beaches and terraces. Its origin is located at the beginning of the 20th century in Córdoba, in charge of Antonio Vargas, owner of a popular place attended by singers and guitarists. There, Antonio served his best-known drink, known as “un vargas”; this was nothing more than a glass of red wine and soda.

    Today, tinto de verano remains a popular drink with a red wine base garnished with soda or lemon soda, served in a highball glass with lots of ice and, optionally, a lemon wedge. Its favorite habitat is in the after-dinner parties, summer terraces and local festivals, where far from being prepared exclusively in the inns, liters of big brands such as Don Simón or La Casera are consumed, which are sold in supermarkets and grocery stores.

    What is the difference between tinto de verano and sangria?

    Another drink that shares high season with the tinto de verano is sangria. Although some people mistake it for sharing the red wine base, sangria incorporates liquor, cut fruit and sugar… a lot of sugar; this is the main difference, which makes it a sweet drink. The amount of alcohol also differs substantially, being higher in sangria. Although the difference is small (around 2-3 %), after several drinks, this small difference is noticeable. If you want to try it for yourself, here are the 9 best sangria recipes according to Tapas Magazine, so that you are encouraged to prepare your own!

    Tinto de verano against Sangria
    Tinto de verano vs. Sangria… Round 1, fight!

    And what about red wine in summer?

    Many wine lovers are unfaithful to red wine when summer arrives. Due to its serving temperature, or its powerful body, it is neither the lightest drink, nor the easiest, nor the most appetizing on a hot day, when a glass full of ice has a great influence on our choice. However, at ANTIGVA we do not stop enjoying our favorite drink in its red variety. How do we do it? Following three maxims that guarantee its enjoyment also in summer:

    1. We monitor the temperature: red wine should not be stored in the fridge, much less served cold, but excess heat can spoil it and make it difficult to drink. Therefore, our preferred option is to keep it at a suitable temperature outside the refrigerator and always protected from direct sunlight. We keep it in the fridge for 1 hour on the chosen day. Then, about 30 minutes before consumption, we take it out and leave it at room temperature.
    2. We monitor the temperature, also during consumption: if the ambient heat is excessive and we run the risk that the wine will heat up when it is consumed, we use a champagne cooler with ice to leave the bottle open. We never –never ever– put ice into the glass of red wine. We do try to fill the glass to half capacity so that the broth exposed to the sun is the minimum. Finally, we take the glass by the stem to transmit as little body heat as possible to the wine.
    3. We continue to monitor the temperature after consumption: if we do not finish the bottle and want to reserve the rest for another occasion (not too far away), then we do keep in the fridge. Now it is convenient to do it standing up and with a special cap that extracts the air from inside the bottle for optimal conservation. In case of not having such a stopper, we use the bottle’s own cork.
    Red wine in summer
    We have it clear… red wine in summer!

    So this summer… tinto de verano, or red wine?

    The most important thing when it comes to drinking wine, is to enjoy it. This should be the only maxim that we follow when choosing one or the other, and the end of each bottle that we open. And when it comes to enjoyment, no one can tell us with what, or how.

    At ANTIGVA we have it clear: we, who love wine, continue to prefer red wine to tinto de verano in summer. A red wine with which we enjoy refreshing summer meals is A de ANTIGVA Tempranillo, a sweet varietal with just the right power and body for the hot months with a serving temperature of around 14 ºC. Salads, light pasta and barbecues go perfectly with this easy-to-drink red wine.

    But we are human, and sometimes we want something even easier. So, away from the popular tinto de verano or sangria, we choose our ctrl+alt+del rosé. It is a sweet Tempranillo rosé wine with a color as bright as summer nights. This, in addition to resetting our emotional state, is enjoyed with pleasure in a balloon glass with a slice or grapefruit or orange peel. And, here yes: ice, lots of ice, because we are in summer and nothing is more enjoyable than a very cool rosé wine.  

  • What are designer wines?

    Sparks will jump out of more than one when trying to understand what designer wines are. To explain it, we have prepared this article that we hope will answer and solve your questions. But before giving the solution to the puzzle, let’s start at the beginning by defining the basic concepts…

    What is design?

    “Design” is, according to the Real Academia Española, a line, sketch or plan that outlines and shapes a project. These “designs” delimit the shape, size, color… of the product or space, but they can also refer to characteristics of services, programs, spaces, etc. With these considerations, a resulting definition of “design” could be that of a mental process that encompasses knowledge, techniques and creativity, with the purpose of projecting objects or works destined for serial production with useful and/or aesthetic purposes.

    Etymologically, it comes from the Italian “disegno” which translates as “drawing” but also means “that which is to come”. It would be a graphic vision of the future, thus reflecting thinking about alternatives that provide a solution to a problem in graphic support. Despite the fact that there are voices that consider it an artistic process, many other detractors defend that it should not be considered that way because it is a process with a functional vocation within a specific social context above aesthetic or symbolic inclinations.

    The designer and his working method

    The designer is the person responsible for combining knowledge, technique and creativity to find a functional solution to a problem in society. As we have seen, although he/she is often classified as an artist because of their use of creativity, the artist seeks to move or convey emotion, while the designer has a clear functional vocation. More than art, this incessant search for solutions and answers brings the designer closer to the figure of the scientist or the philosopher.

    The design activity is usually supported by a work method that is developed in 4 phases:

    1. Empirical analysis: through the senses, both of the problem and the environment in which it develops in order to detect the need. This is the time to ask questions like what, how, why, when, how much, who, for what, for whom, where, etc.
    2. Evaluation: in order to prioritize, order and categorize both the information collected and the needs detected.
    3. Projecting: this is the time to propose a solution to the problem through work techniques linked to the discipline, such as models and drawings that reflect the knowledge but also the creativity of the designer.
    4. Prototype: the design is carried out in a first prototype that serves to corroborate its functionality and detect possible errors that could have been overlooked.

    Design applications

    The concept behind designer wines is new, but historically design has been applied to multiple disciplines, some of which have been indispensable for building civilization as we know it, remaining from its origin and evolving with the history of mankind. Some of the most prominent are architectural design, fashion design, and automotive design.

    Architectural design

    From the beginning, humanity required caves that served as shelter against inclement weather, as a refuge from the threat of other species and as a retreat for the tribe. Evolution led to the invention of small constructions and later large buildings. Architectural design has the purpose of satisfying the needs of human beings in the search for habitable spaces that combine the aesthetic, functional and technological, historically relying on analogies with nature, metaphors, religious implications, etc.

    Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

    Fashion design

    Along with the need to find a safe place came the need to protect oneself from the cold and with it the first clothes. Fashion design represents the sophistication of this need, designing and making clothes, garments and accessories based on social and cultural influences in specific historical periods. Fashion is considered a cultural expression with great artistic weight, which took a stylistic leap in the 20th century thanks to names like Dolce & Gabanna, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier or Carolina Herrera.

    Donatella Versace and the Golden Girls

    Automotive design

    Currently, there are more than 1.2 billion cars in circulation in the world. Automotive design appeared as the sophistication of the sector grew but also to drive technological advancement. Its practice requires a large team of professionals and technicians who work on two main aspects: interior design, where ergonomics and comfort prevail; and the exterior design, where aerodynamics are fundamentally taken into account.

    Lexus LF-Z concept car

    What are designer wines?

    Design in the wine world mainly refers to external aspects such as the bottle, the name, the label or the packaging that will accompany the wine, all with the aim of making the final consumer fall in love. However, being these essential elements in the launch of a new wine, they can never ignore the most important thing, what we find when uncorking the bottle: the wine itself.

    When we talk about designer wines, we transfer to the world of wine this mental and creative process that is to design, linked to the knowledge and technique of a science such as oenology; we are working on something much deeper than an attractive image. We are making designer wines, conceptualized from their origin in order to satisfy a specific need or problem of a defined audience.

    Analema Rosat de l’alba 2020

    Since 2010 making designer wines

    The elegant, complex and sophisticated wine for a romantic evening; the ideal sparkling wine that makes a celebration a special gastronomic experience; the easy-to-drink wine suitable for the most casual at a barbecue… There is a functional and service vocation in each bottle we make. For this reason, our wines are designer wines, because in addition to being elaborated, they are thought and designed from their origin in order to satisfy the needs and desires of our customers, wine lovers.

  • Wine DSGn Thinking®, a unique method

    Design Thinking is a unique method that puts the consumer and user at the center of the product and service development process. Companies like Zara, Apple or Google use it to generate innovative ideas that solve problems and consumer needs. Its applicability is limited only by our own imagination.

    Design Thinking is a process that combines the creative freedom and sensitivity of people within a work team, relying on industrial design processes. Its main characteristics are the following:

    1. The use of empathy: this human quality serves to understand the wishes, problems and needs of the users of products and services, in order to satisfy them.
    2. Teamwork: the ideas, points of view, experiences, interpretations and internal mechanisms of every human being adds up in this process.
    3. Testing: through the generation of prototypes, since every idea must be validated before it is launched to the market.

    At ANTIGVA we decided to transfer this methodology to the world of wine, using it to make wines that we call ‘designed’, since they are actually designed and made in order to satisfy the wishes and desires of wine lovers around the world. We would call it Wine DSGn Thinking®.

    It was through the demand of one of our main importers that we understood that the wishes of those who love wine cannot be conditioned by the limitations of their trusted winery. If we wanted to keep our friend’s love, we had to turn something impossible, to something possible. And we did it by adapting Design Thinking to our business, in 5 phases:

    1. We empathize with his needs and desires. Through active listening, putting ourselves in his shoes, we understood his demand…
    2. … To elaborate a definition that would compile all the information that he had transmitted to us, and consequently the characteristics of the wine he had imagined…
    3. We gathered ideas as a team, those that could bring us closer to the solution we were looking for, both in the what’s and the how’s.
    4. And we got into work. We searched, found, negotiated, collaborated, until we gathered all the necessary elements and synergies with agronomists, oenologists and winemakers that would allow us to prototype the desired wine.
    5. With the first production still unlabeled, we set out to meet our client for the testing phase, also know among us as “tasting”. This was the most rewarding moment, and in which we were able to consider the path traveled as a success.

    Here we begin a period of reflection that we used to fine-tune the methodology. From the innovation in industrial design, we had found a work process that we could adapt to our activity. The design and winemaking of the wines we imagined, that would be impossible for us to make with our land and vineyards, could become a reality.

    Since then, it has been our desire to make this unique method that we call Wine DSGn Thinking® grow to share it with you and every wine lover around the world, making it the most democratic way to produce, but also to enjoy and celebrate the world of wine.

  • Jancis Robinson shatters 10 myths of the world of wine

    When was the last time a sommelier recommended a white wine to pair with a beef chop?

    The answer may probably be never.

    The world of wine is full of false myths. Today we bring you from the hand of Jancis Robinson, the planet’s main prescriber, and her book “Wine Expert in 24 Hours”, the 10 false myths about the world of wine that you should know.

    1. Red for meat, white for fish

    There are white wines that pair perfectly with chicken, pork or mild stews, and red wines that go well with fish or salads. How it is cooked is as important as the raw material when choosing the wine.

    2. European wines are better than American

    Wine does not understand continents. The main thing is to try it yourself.

    3. The more expensive the better

    There are really special elaborations and fabulous vintages that increase the price. But sometimes it’s about a luxury brand positioning, gained over the years.

    4. Red wine has a higher alcohol content that white

    Although this was so originally, the current pace of life has led wineries to look for alternatives that allow you to have a glass of wine between meals, before continuing the day. This is how the 37.5 cl bottles and low alcohol red wines were born.

    5. The heavier the bottle, the better

    Thick glass is a tool used to raise the price, but not the value of wine. Except for sparkling wines, which need a thick glass to withstand the pressure derived from the second fermentation.

    6. The bigger the slit, the better

    The indentation at the base of the bottle serves for stability and helps build up sediment, and even to serve the wine with style. But it is not related to the quality of the wine.

    7. Rosé wine is for women

    Wine does not understand genres either.

    8. In restaurants, wine is given to taste to see if it’s liked

    Wine is given to taste in a restaurant to see if it suffers from TCA, popularly known as ‘cork smell’. But a self-respecting sommelier would detect it as soon as he opened the bottle, and would never offer it if it was the case.

    9. Wine needs aeration

    This is not the case with young wines or sparkling wines, which are enjoyed instantly. If it is a long-aging wine, this is different.

    10. Wine improves with time

    Young wines, rosé wines and white wines lose expressiveness over time. These are made for short-term consumption. As for aged wines, it is advisable to seek advice and assess whether it is worth the wait. Neither wines nor people are made to last forever.

    As for the beef chop, it can be paired with a full-bodied white wine, citrus aromas and exotic fruits, which is rich and mineral in the mouth. An Arretxea Hegoxuri from Irulegi would be an excellent choice, worthy of a true prescriber!