Wine And Oak – A Lovely Relationship
One of the biggest impacts on the flavor of the wine is whether it just stored, in oak, or even has been grown. Some people will whine of even the tiniest hint of oak and are prejudiced against oaked wine, but a lot of experts concur that when a wine is carefully oaked it does not taste of wood, but more like wine that’s had its flavor subtly accentuated.
Oak aging of wine happens when the wine was fermented and aged in oak casks so that the flavor of the surrounding wood infuses some its woodiness to the liquid. The resulting wine will taste richer, just a little woody or even saw dusty and sometimes with creamy vanilla undertones. The oak is a kind of seasoning for wine and getting the optimum amount of oaky flavor is vital if your wine will be to taste right at the end.
Oak is regarded as a perfect wood with this aging as it not only has outstanding watertight qualities but gives the appropriate form of flavors, scents, and textures to enhance the wine. However, you will find various kinds of oak offering particular distinguishing flavorings. The most frequently used are the highly-prized, closely-grained French oak which gives a subtle hint of oakiness, while American oak gives a more prominent vanilla nature to the wine. Other variables that allow oak aging to affect a wine’s taste would be the size of the barrels, (bigger ones giving less flavour), the age of the wood used, the particular time the wine spends within the cask, and whether the barrels have now been toasted (i.e. lightly burned on the inside).
Now the fashion is for oaked wines and winemakers are creating more subtle, elegant flavors. Red wines are often aged in oak, which adds abundance and the required extra body, with hints of wood- tannin, cream, and spice. Soft light reds for example Beaujolais are usually unoaked, but the more affluent more compelling fashions, for example, Californian Cabernet Sauvignon or fine red Bordeaux are more often than not aged in oak. Similarly, Rioja is oak aged for a long time to provide it a distinctive mellow creaminess. Port and Madeira are wood-aged and have a distinct hint of oak, while even some Champagnes are aged to get a quick time in oak barrels, although they never taste quite oaky, only a bit more full-bodied. Some superior sweet white wines are also aged.