What Are The Dimensions Of A Wine Barrel? (Find Out Now!)
If you’ve looked at most cartoons that involve a winemaking scene, you might notice that the barrels always seem a little different in size. Sure, they all look barrel-like. Some are big, others are small. If you want to make your own wine at home or if you want to add a wine barrel as decoration, you need to know how big they actually are.
The average dimensions of a wine barrel are 35 inches high, and 27 inches in diameter. However, wine barrels vary in width depending on how many gallons of wine they can contain. The height, however, is always almost the same except for in special circumstances, or in the case of custom wine barrels.
When you realize how much variation a wine barrel can have, it’s easy to see why illustrations never seem to keep their appearance safe. If you’re wondering what these barrels can do or how big they can get, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at how the size of your barrels might change and why.
The Basic Wine Barrel Dimensions
Wine barrels all have a similar build. They are narrow at the top and bottom, wide in the middle, and all stand up at a certain height. Let’s take a closer look at each part of a barrel’s anatomy that people question.
Standard Wine Barrel Tops And Bottoms
The top and bottoms of wine barrels are going to be smaller than the “belly,” though they’re still typically round. The “heads” (as we’ll call them) of the barrels are smaller to help make them easier to stack and store. Most barrel heads are between 21 to 23 inches in diameter, depending on how much wine the barrel is meant to store.
Standard Wine Barrel Belly Measurements
We’re going to talk about the bilge of the wine now. Though the bilge is the proper term for this, we’re going to call it the belly because that’s what most people call it casually. The “belly” of the wine barrel is the widest part. The belly of the barrel also happens to be one of the biggest concerns you should have if you want to repurpose a barrel for decorative purposes.
It will take up most of the width and it’s also the most varied of the measurements. A typical barrel belly will be around 25 to 27 inches in diameter and will have a barrel head of 21 inches. If you have a larger barrel, then you can expect the belly to be closer to 28 or 29 inches in diameter. While 28 inches is pretty big, it’s still not the largest.
Unusually large barrels can have a diameter as big as 32 or more, with head diameters up to 25 inches. With that said, those are not the norm and should not be expected to be standard.
Standard Wine Barrel Height
Believe it or not, wine barrels don’t really have much deviation when it comes to their height, even if their widths vary greatly. The standard height for a wine barrel is 34.75 inches, though some just round it up to 35 inches. Bordeaux barrels will have a height of 37.5 inches, but it’s more of a traditional issue than anything else.
How Much Clearance Do You Need To Move A Wine Barrel Into Your Home?
Part of the difficulty of getting a wine barrel into your home is getting the clearance to push it through doors and through tight corners. In order to get the barrel into your home, you will need a clearance that is at least an inch wider than the belly of the barrel. This gives you just enough space to push the barrel through doorways.
When planning out whether or not you will be able to make your barrel fit through the door, it’s a good idea to take a measurement of your doorway. Remember to add a little leeway to make sure that the actual door doesn’t snag on the barrel!
How Much Does A Standard Wine Barrel Weigh?
Wine barrels weigh a lot more than you expect them to weigh, we’ll tell you that much. When they are empty a typical wine barrel will weigh between 90 to 115 pounds depending on the specific measurements as well as the type of wood that’s used in making it. If you fill the barrel with wine, it can weigh as much as 600 pounds.
How Much Wine Can A Typical Barrel Hold?
Barrels are often made with specs geared towards a specific capacity. Here’s a quick run-through of the most common specs you might find for a typical barrel:
- Demi-Barrique. This translates to “half-barrel” in French and is about half the size of a standard barrel. This can hold up to 30 gallons of wine.
- Bordelaise + Bourguignon. These are two barrel types that are typically seen as standard. They’re also known as Bordeaux and Burgundy. Both hold roughly 60 gallons, though Bordeaux barrels are slightly smaller.
- Hogshead. These are not wine barrels, per se. They are usually used in the production of cognac, and hold a hogshead of wine. (A hogshead is an official measurement that stands for 79 gallons of liquid. No, we don’t know why it’s called that.)
- A Demi-Muid. This is nowhere near the typical barrel measurements and is actually the largest size you can possibly find in a private home in most cases. This holds 159 gallons and is far more common in actual vineyards.
Can You Reuse Wine Barrels?
Aside from turning a wine barrel into a table, winemakers regularly reuse wine barrels when they’re manufacturing new batches of wine. The only thing is, there is a limited number of times you can make wine with the same barrel. The most that you can reuse a wine barrel for winemaking purposes is three times.
Every time you use a wine barrel, the wood that helps age the wine loses a little flavor. After the third time, your wine will start to lose a significant amount of flavor, leaving your wine fairly bland. While some might be okay with this, the reduction in wine quality will really grind an oenophile’s gears.
Common Projects Involving Wine Barrels
If nothing else, wine barrels are hot items for home improvement projects. They actually offer a bunch of different ways to add a French country look to your home, and can act as a highly versatile medium for a number of different projects. If you got a brand new wine barrel in your home, consider turning it into one of these hip, trendy, and functional projects:
- Wine Storage. Hey, we’re just going to point out that there’s nothing wrong with making wine and storing it in a barrel. That is what they’re made for, after all. Oddly enough, barrels can also be turned into wine bottle storage units by sawing them in half and adding a wine rack to the barrel’s interior. So there’s more than one way to make them work for you.
- Dining Tables. This is a great way to make a new dining room table on the cheap. Wine barrels act as a good dining table base. All you need is the finished wooden (or marble) tabletop of your choice and a way to fix them together.
- Shelving Units. It’s true. You can make some pretty neat shelves by sawing a wine barrel in half and adding shelves in choice areas. Some folks even go so far as to add a hinge to the barrels, so they act as a “secret shelf” unit in a home.
- Display Cases. Wine barrels can also be changed up to be display cases, especially if they’re a “mini barrel.”
- Side Tables. Don’t want to get too hands-on with your handiwork? Want to just add a little aesthetic to your living room? A wine barrel can work well as a side table if you’re okay with a taller table.
What do wineries do with old wine barrels?
There are a bunch of things they can do with old, used casks. Some wineries will sell them to people who make cognac and other liquors that require a barrel aging process. Since wine-soaked barrels tend to impart more flavor on hard liquors, they’re considered to be a premium choice in many cases.Of course, some wineries also will sell their old barrels or send them to a factory where others turn them into furniture and accessories. Since wine barrels are made of quality wood, there’s really no end to what they can do.
How long do wine barrels last?
If you are a wine lover who is looking for long-term storage, there’s no reason to shy away from the tradition of using a wine cask. A typical oak wine barrel can last as long as 100 years with proper storage, meaning that you won’t ever have to worry about it being too old to carry your wine.If you are using your wine barrel as a storage area for books or as a side table, then you will see an even longer lifespan. High-quality wine barrels that are carefully maintained after being converted to furniture can become a family heirloom piece.
How do I keep a wine barrel from shrinking?
If a wine barrel isn’t carrying liquid, the wood that it’s made from will dehydrate. This, in turn, causes the wood to shrink and makes the metal bands come loose. This breaks your wine barrel. To prevent your barrel from shrinking and being unusable for wine storage, keep water in it when it’s not holding wine.The water keeps the wood hydrated, which in turn, keeps the barrel nice and plump. To avoid issues, try to change the water regularly.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
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