ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


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


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