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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Do winemakers process wines differently that are considered “fruit forward,” and are these wines approachable earlier than they would be otherwise?
—Dave W., Akron, Ohio
If a winemaker intends to make a fruit-forward wine, possibly the biggest decision he or she makes is about the use of oak barrels, as fermenting or aging a wine in oak can impart flavors that might compete with with a wine’s fruitiness. Many other decisions along the way can emphasize (or deemphasize) a fruit-forward nature, like when to pick the grapes, what type of yeast is used and whether and how to blend.
Are fruit-forward wines approachable early on? That’s a pretty broad question, to which I’d broadly answer “yes.” Fruit-forward wines tend to lose that quality as they get older, as the fruit flavors fade and the wine takes on more mature notes. That’s not to say a fruit-forward wine won’t age well—I’ve had plenty that did. But wines made in that style are more likely to be designed for early consumption.
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