The Anatomy of a Wine Barrel

The Anatomy of a Barrel

Sure, you probably know what a “bung hole” is (we’ll wait while your inner child chuckles) but do you know the correct terminology for the rest of a barrel? Barrels are crafted without a single nail or drop of glue – rivets hold the hoops together and the rest is a perfectly pieced together puzzle.

Each part of a World Cooperage wine barrel is crafted with care and attention to detail at our cooperage in Missouri. With quality checks throughout the process, we ensure our barrels are built to exact specifications. Correct bilge size? Hoop placement? Croze depth? We check it all before it ships to your winery.

There are several key elements that make up the anatomy of a barrel. Learn the terms in our handy graphic below. Then, for more details, dig into our list of terms and their definitions.

  • Stave \ ˈstāv \
    Strips of wood placed edge to edge to form the sides of a barrel.
  • Stave Joint
    The point where the edges of two staves meet creating a liquid tight seal.
  • Bung \ ˈbəŋ-ˌhōl \
    The stopper placed in the bunghole of the barrel.
  • Bung Hole  \ ˈbəŋ-ˌhōl \
    A hole precisely drilled into the bung stave to exact specifications. Used for filling and emptying the barrel.
  • Bilge \ ‘bilj \
    The bulge (or belly) created by jointing each stave smaller at the ends. The bilge provides added resistance to internal pressure by enabling the joints to tighten in a uniform circumference.
  • Bilge Hoop
    Permanent steel hoops nearest to the belly of the barrel.
  • Quarter Hoop
    Permanent steel hoops in between the bilge and head hoops.
  • Head Hoop
    Permanent steel hoops at the outermost ends of the barrel, nearest the barrel head.
  • Rivet \ ˈri-vət \
    The metal bolt used for uniting the ends of the steel hoops.
  • Cant
    Shorter pieces of heading staves used for the edges of the heads.
  • Head
    Flat, circular end of each barrel made up of jointed heading staves. The head fits tightly into the croze creating a liquid tight seal.
  • Chime \ ˈchīm \
    The rim of the barrel from the croze to the top of the barrel staves.
  • Croze \ ‘krōze \
    A groove cut at each end of the inside of the barrel. The croze is designed to ensure a liquid-tight seal when the heads are placed.

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