The purchasing of new barrels is a major concern for winemakers, and each winery will have a very individualistic barrel protocol. The winery at which I am gainfully employed purchases a butt-load, (that is a technical term), of new French oak barrels, for Chardonnay and Cabernet sauvignon production, from perhaps as many as a dozen different cooperages. Consequently, quite a large number of barrels have been arriving at the winery for the past few weeks; preceded by a passel of barrel salesmen, eager to secure large contracts, bringing with them promotional materials they each hope will curry favour with the winemaker. These promotional materials often include t-shirts, coffee mugs, wine thieves and...toothpicks, French oak toothpicks no less. It could be worse, The Boswell Company could have offered the winemaker a peg leg, or George Washington's false teeth, as a conciliatory gift.