Wine Education: Surprising Truths about Wine, Oak, and Oak Alternatives

Wine Education: Surprising Truths about Wine, Oak, and Oak Alternatives

Isn't it romantic to picture a room full of fine wine aging in oak barrels? In addition to all that ambience, wooden barrels also have a major impact on how wine tastes. In reality though, many winemakers now use alternative methods to get similar effects at less cost. Find answers to common question about wine and wood.

How do wooden barrels affect wine?

As a wine matures, contact with wood gives it structure, tannins, and various complex aromas and flavors. Wood barrels also allow for oxygenation that helps soften the wine. The specific effects vary depending on many factors like the origin of the wood, how much the wood has been toasted, and whether the barrels are new or reused. Overall, winemakers look to integrate the influence of wood into the process in order to produce a balanced wine.

How expensive are those barrels?

A single French oak barrel can cost close to $1,000 or much more. To relieve the sticker shock a little, keep in mind that winemakers can make up some of that expense by reselling the barrel or reusing it themselves a few times.

What alternatives are being used?

Many winemakers have adopted alternatives like oak chips and oak staves to replace the traditional barrel. They can be used with steel tanks so the wine picks up properties from the wood with less space, time, labor, and other costs required. As these methods improve and produce higher quality results, they're becoming more visible.

How can I find wines I like?

The more you know about wine and wood, the better prepared you'll be to select wines that suit your palate. Taste wines made with different methods and experience the difference for yourself.

Of course, we're happy to help you find your personal favorites in our vast selection of world class wines. Contact us at Vino Fine Wine and Spirits today.

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  • Adam Linet