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,
How can I tell if an American made wine was aged in American oak barrels or French oak barrels? Are there any clues on the labels? I am a new wine enthusiast and I seem to prefer Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French oak.
—Cheri, Mooresville, N.C.
Well, either the label will tell you or it won't. Keep in mind that there are a lot of variables when it comes to oak aging. Some producers use exclusively French or American barrels, while others mix it up. Even if a producer uses exclusively French or exclusively American barrels, there are other variables, such as different barrel producers, different levels of toast, and mixing newer (stronger) with older (more neutral) barrels. And some winemakers might barrel-age their wines for only a few months, and other upwards of a couple of years.
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