Love it or hate it, oak is important in wine. Here are 5 things to know.

Aug 17, 2019

(WP) - Last month, in my list of five things to know about chardonnay, I argued that the wine “should not taste like a tree.” That was my lament not just that too many winemakers overdo the oak treatment so the wine tastes more of the barrel than the grape, but also that we consumers have come to expect wine to taste more like wood than fruit.

That isn’t a diatribe against oak. Nearly all of the world’s finest wines see oak in some form before they ever reach a bottle. Here are five things to know about how oak influences the flavor, quality and price of the wines you enjoy.

Oak adds flavor You can taste oak in your wine. Oak’s influence is more pronounced when small barrels are used, because more wine comes in contact with the wood. These are the types of barrels you see when you visit wineries. They usually hold about 225 liters (60 gallons), or 25 cases of wine, though sizes vary slightly.

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