Oak and Wine

By Brian Lemay No comments


Hey Tasters! Today’s video is all about tasting wood. Now, now! Don’t be vulgar, darlings! We are talking about oak barrels and their
effect on wine. Maturation in an oak barrel is now seen as
an essential part of a winemaker’s toolkit. It is after all the only method available
for seasoning a wine. However, this wasn’t always the case. Up until Roman times, we transported wine
in heavy, breakable, unwieldy clay pots called amphorae. Then one day, some Roman legionaries spotted
Asterix and Obelix rolling a barrel of what was probably beer, down the street. And they thought to themselves “Hang on a
minute! These Gauls… they might be onto something! And the rest is history! As it turns out, these Romans… not so crazy
after all! So, oak barrels were nothing more than a better
way to transport liquids. They were lighter, and you could roll them,
which was easier than lifting a clay pot, and I’m going to guess kind of fun too! However, it wasn’t long before someone noticed
that wine that had spent time in an oak barrel actually tasted better. In fact, oak imparts an additional dimension
to the aromas, colour stability and flavours of wine. But how does that work? Let’s explore how maturation in oak actually
affects and changes wine. And let’s consider some of these elusive aromas
that come from an oak barrel. A wine that has matured in oak has a far more
complex character and greater potential for aging compared to an unoaked wine. But exactly does the barrel affect the wine?
the barrel modifies mainly two components in wine. The aromatic character and the tannins. Oaked red wine has tannins coming from two
separate sources. The first source of tannins is the skin, the
seeds and the stems of the grapes. The second source of tannins, however, is
the oak barrel itself, which imparts wood tannins to the wine during maturation. So, how does the barrel maturation affect
these tannins? Inside the barrel controlled amounts of oxygen
come into contact with the wine. This oxygen binds with the hard grape tannins
and as a result the wine softens and becomes less astringent. Wood tannins from the barrel are softer. So, when a variety is high in grape tannins,
such as Cabernet Sauvignon, these additional soft tannins are almost imperceptible. So, with a tannic red wine, the most noticeable
effect of barrel maturation is the overall softening of tannins through the exposure
to oxygen. However, when a variety is low in tannins,
such as a Pinot Noir, then the time in the barrel will give the wine the tannic structure
it lacks by bringing soft, elegant wood tannins into the wine. as well as assisting the winemaker with tannic
management, the barrel adds extra flavours and aromas to the wine. It imparts aromas of spices such as cinnamon,
vanilla and pepper. Also, woody aromas like cedar or pine. The barrel also imparts aromas of nuts such
as almond and hazelnut. But also aromas emerge from the toasting of
the barrel such as tobacco, coffee and caramel. There are many changes brought about by the
barrel aging process. Some wine lovers adore the oakey character
of some wines while others prefer the vibrancy and brightness of the unoaked style. Which one do you prefer? Let me know in a comment below. Tasters, if you’ve enjoyed this video give
it a thumbs-up. I’m back to using the Canon camera today. Let me know in the comment if you can see
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