Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
What do winemakers mean when they say that a wine is aged in 100 percent new oak, or in some cases, 200 percent new oak? If 200 percent new oak is used, does it have to be aged for a certain time in the new oak and moved to another barrel? Does the size of the barrel come into play in any of this?
—Murad, Mountain View, Calif.
None of these terms are regulated, but generally when someone says they’ve aged their wine in 100 percent new oak, they mean that all of their wine went into brand new barrels. The newer the barrel, the stronger it is, and the more flavor it imparts. If a winemaker wants even more oak influence, they can then transfer the wine to another brand new barrel, hence the “200 percent new oak” moniker. Generally when I’ve seen this “200 percent” term used, it was when a wine spent about a year in each of the new barrels, but I’m sure it can vary from producer to producer. As far as the size of the barrel—again, since these aren’t regulated terms, there is no way of knowing. But the smaller the barrel, the more influence the barrel will have, simply based on the surface area and wine to barrel ratio.