Good news to makers of tropical fruit wines in the Philippines.

Quality yet affordable wine barrels for aging your fruit raw materials may soon be available in the market.

The Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) is currently pilot-testing wine barrels made from three tree plantation species (TPS), namely: big-leafed mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), mangium (Acacia mangium), and river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and two fruit trees, namely: santol (Sandoricum koijape) and Indian mango (Mangifera indica).

The wine barrels were developed by the Institute’s researchers to find cheaper substitutes to white oak (Quercus alba) which is known worldwide as the best material for fermenting and ageing wine.

“Most local fruit wine makers use plastic and glass containers to ferment and age their wines,” explains Project Leader Engr. Caezar Cuaresma. “So we are happy that with our wine barrel technology (WBT), they can have access to a quality but affordable option. It’s almost like they’re using imported barrels but at a lesser cost – about three times cheaper.”

The DOST-FPRDI fruit wine barrels make use of wood from tree plantation species and old, unproductive fruit trees.

According to Cuaresma, their partner-fabricator, Angeles Woodworks Co. based in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, has already made sample barrels which are an enhanced version of the original.

“Several large distilleries and wineries have already signified their interest in our technology,” he added. “To meet their needs, we are planning to do further studies for upscaling the barrels’ capacities.”

The DOST-FPRDI barrels have been certified safe by the WBT team as the wine aged in them had no adverse effects on test rats. Likewise the wine has been rated “moderately acceptable” by expert tasters who assessed it for color, bitterness, sweetness, clarity, flavor, aftertaste and general acceptability.

According to Cuaresma, the WBT does not in any way contribute to deforestation as it makes use only of wood from tree plantation species and old, unproductive fruit trees.

The pilot-testing is funded by the DOST’s Technology Innovation for Commercialization (TECHNICOM) and will run until December 2020. (Rizalina K. Araral, September 9, 2020)