Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Why is French oak considered to be the best kind of wood to store wine?

—Arturo, Cabo, Mexico

Dear Arturo,

I don’t think it’s universally agreed that French oak barrels are the best (unless you’re speaking to a French oak barrel sales rep). In the most general terms, French oak barrels are thought to impart more subtle nuances than American ones, with smoke and spice and silky textures. Some vintners prefer the stronger influence of American barrels and their vanilla, coconut and creamy notes. Plenty of producers use a variety of barrels, including a mix of French and American. Some producers also use oak from Hungary, Slavonia and elsewhere.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.