Why Wood It?

Posted on Updated on

How long has this wine had wood contact? But why?


Wooded wines are not only recognizable by the price difference when compaired to unwooded wines, but mostly by the different flavours that are enhanced by the wood component. WineFolly posted a very insightful blog about How Wine Barrels Affect the Taste of Wine, and we would like to highlight a few main points for you.

Be sure to read the full story here.

How Do Oak Barrels Help Wine?

Oak offers three major contributions to wine:

  1. It adds flavor compounds–including aromas of vanilla, clove, smoke and coconut.
  2. It allows the slow ingress of oxygen–a process which makes wine taste smoother and less astringent.
  3. It provides a suitable environment for certain metabolic reactions to occur (specifically Malolactic Fermentation)–which makes wines taste creamier.


What Flavors Does it Add?

Unlike beer, wine does not allow flavor additives (i.e. coriander, orange peel, etc). Thus, oak has become the accepted way to affect the taste of wine. When added to wine, oak flavors combine with wine flavors to create a wide variety of new potential flavors.

The Differences of New vs Used Oak and Aging

Just like tea, oak flavor extraction is reduced each time it’s used. You’ll also notice that aging periods vary depending on the winemaker’s preference as well as the type of wine.

Size Matters: The larger the barrel used, the less oak lactones and oxygen are imparted into a wine. Barriques are traditionally 225 liters, whereas Botti and Foudres are much larger – from about 1000–20,000 liters.

Different kinds of oak used for winemaking

There are 2 primary species preferred for winemaking: Quercus alba or American white oak and Quercus petrea or European white oak. Each species offers slightly different flavor profiles. Additionally, the climate where the oak grows also affects flavors. So for example, wines aged in Quercus petrea from Allier, France will taste different from wines aged in Quercus petrea from the Zemplen Mountains forest in Hungary.

  • European (French) Oak Found in France, Hungary, Slavonia (Croatia)
  • American Oak Found in Missouri and the midwest

Difference between American and European (French) Oak

The major distinguishable physical difference between the wine oak species is its density. European oak tends to be more dense (closer spaced rings) which has been suggested to impart less oak lactones and oxygen than American oak. Generally speaking, American oak is ideal for bolder, more structured wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah) that can handle American oak’s robust flavors and oxygen ingress, whereas European oak is ideal for lighter wines (such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay) that require more subtlety.

Here at Merwida, most of our wooded wines are aged in French Oak barrels, except for our lightly wooded Chardonnay, which is aged in American Oak.

Have any questions on our wines? Please feel free to email us


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s