To OAK or not to OAK

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To oak or not to oak? That is the question.

And we’re not necessarily talking about OAK BARRELS.

Here at SWAT we stock a variety of oak CHIPS which produce FANTASTIC results – as well as saving you some dollars! See our range HERE

Did you know that OAK CHIPS are an ECONOMICAL and EASY way to add remarkable flavour and to wine?

Oak barrels are expensive! So, it’s no surprise that some winemakers have taken on oak alternatives – from oak “tea bag” infusions to chips, fans and staves.

We stock an extensive range of small and large FRENCH and AMERICAN oak chips, powders, fans, tank staves – and we can offer a custom made service to tailor your winemaking needs. We sell in small quantities, for those wanting to experiment and in also in bulk.

Feel free to pop into our store for any advice!


  • Give additional AROMA and BODY to the wine;
  • Bring out FLAVOUR profiles of vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate as well as wood and toasted notes;
  • Allows YOU to improve the quality of your wine during the vinification and maturation – oak chips give YOU the control.



  • There are 400 types of OAK species, available to source wood for wine barrels;
  • It takes an entire oak tree to produce TWO wine barrels;
  • Craftsmen who make wooden barrels are called coopers. The cooper’s challenge is to bend the hard, straight staves into a rounded barrel shape. Plenty of heat is needed to make the staves pliable;
  • Oak chips are TOASTED in the same traditional way that wine barrels are toasted;
  • Oak chips can provide immense VALUE for producers who want to produce an everyday wine with an oak flavour;
  • Winemakers were legally BARRED from using oak chips until 1993, and European winemakers weren’t approved to use alternatives until 2005;
  • The first barrel, as we know it, was designed as far back as 350 BC. Before wood, Clay was almost the go-to material to store wine and spirit – and clay, has had a massive resurgence (see our blog post on Clayvers, which we have in store HERE).


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