Many wine lovers don’t know the fact that wine and oak shares a long relationship. It is known that alcohol manufactures and producers have been using oak barrels for aging and fermentation of wine for more than a few decades now, but not all of us know that oak is actually being utilized as a “seasoning” agent in order to add a palate appeal and flavor to the wine. In fact, oak leaves a lasting mark on almost all the bottles of expensive wines.
Red wine varietals such as Syrah, Tempranilo, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Chianti, Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir have a fair amount of oak presence in them. Similarly, white wine varietals that are receptive to the influence of oak include Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigo.
The Oak Effect
Oak has the unique ability to offer aromatic support and flavor to almost all different types of wines. Furthermore, it is also responsible for the complexity and richness of the drink. The primary influence of oak accentuate aromas, which center around the spice rack with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, and vanilla being the common aromas. The influence of oak also brings rich flavors of butter, toffee, mocha, tea, smoke, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut, and caramel to the drink.
A typical oak barrel is capable of holding approximately 60 gallons of wine, and the porous nature of oak makes only a little amount of wine evaporate within the barrel. Manufactures claim that only about 5 percentage of wine is being lost due to the evaporation. However, this natural evaporation significantly increases the aroma and flavor of the drink.
The Barrel Use
There are a few factors to be considered before using an oak barrel for making the wine. The factors such as the origin, natural variations, and a lot more should be investigated before using the oak for the wine making process. This will help the manufacturers to know whether the oak is right for the wine making process or not.
The French oak barrel and the American oak barrel are the most common types of oak barrels, which are used to produce wine. American oak barrels are a little more popular among small manufacturers, as they are cheaper and they have lower wood tannins when compared to the French oak barrels. In addition to that, they also have a greater influence on the flavor and aroma of the wine. However, certain winemakers also prefer to use Slavonian barrels and Hungarian barrels.