Wine Tips for May

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Oak & Your Wine

Recently, some Friends of K-Cellars talked about oak( the wood barrel) during our tasting event.  Perhaps, some of us will be interested to know some general facts about the oak barrels.

Why Wine Makers put wine Into the oak barrel?

This is to give special aroma and complexity to the wine.

What flavours will the oak infuse into the wine?

Quite a lot actually if you smell carefully, e.g. vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, tea smoke, mocca, butter.

Where do the wineries buy the oak for making the wine barrels?

Mainly from France, U.S.A, and Eastern Europe such as Hungary.  French oak generally is believed to be more concentrated in their tannins, whereas American oak offers lots of mellowness.

Are there big differences among barrels from different regions?

The key differentiation comes from the wood particles which affect the content and structure of the tannins.

Normally how long should the wine be aged in the oak barrels?

Depending on the level of wine to be made, wine-makers age this between 12 to nearly 24 months in oak.  Provided that the wine is capable of aging, the longer the period, the fuller the body and thus resulting in bigger complexity.

What is the usual proportion of new and old barrels being used in wine-making?

Very often, one-third of the aging is in new oak barrels, and the rest of time in old barrels.  When an oak barrel is reused for over 5 times, the flavor and substance within the wood will be hard to find.

One point to note is: while aging in oak can enhance the bouquet and taste of the wine, too much oak flavor can lead to undesirable effects.  That is why we sometimes we hear people say the wine is too oaky, and too tannic!

Thank you for reading :)