Oak and Wine, match made in heaven
Oak and Wine
Asking Picasso to paint with his arms tied is wine-making without Oak. What Oak does to wine has never been successfully replicated, regardless of any advancement in technology. Wine simply will not be wine without Oak, it would just stay the same as fermented grape juice.
Not all wine spend their time in Oak, some wine with lighter body will not have the structure needed to take on Oak. The flavors from Oak impart on the wine will overpower any of its flavors, wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are preferred without Oak, or limited time in Oak. Their lively flavors and vibrant personalities are ideal for early consumption, aging them in Oak (or too long in Oak) might strip away their freshness.
A majority of wines will spend sometime in Oak, and the very best of them all do so inevitably. For centuries, wine and Oak are inseparable. What Oak does to wine is what sunlight does to grapes, it transforms wine, like an artist sculpts away the rough edges and gradually adding life to a sculpture.
While spending time in Oak, wine loses 3-4% of its volume each year, it exchanges for not only more flavors, but complexity and elegance. Small amount of Oxygen leaking through the Oak barrel integrates its flavors and structure into a better wine. Regions like Rioja and Ribera Del Duero in Spain categorizes quality of their wine based on the amount of time it spent in Oak.
A specific set of oak staves held together by nothing more than just metal rings, and yet it imparts flavors on wine that no artificial means can ever come close to. Though common flavors like vanilla, coffee, chocolate, dried herbs, cedar and smoke are found in Oaked wine, wine drinkers find themselves falling in love ever so deeply with more exotic perfumes of truffle, rose pedals, grilled meat, charred honey cones, espresso, toasted tea-leafs, almond and many more.
When you have a sip of wine, it is more seductive, intriguing and mysterious; it may bring you to beautiful places, it has you close your eyes with imagination and satisfaction. You have to take another sip. That experience is all made possible thanks to Oak. Cheers!
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-Certified Sommelier (CMS)
Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM