You said winemakers get oak barrels from Slavonia. Where's that?

Ask Dr Vinny

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,

Where exactly in Eastern Europe is Slavonia? And are the oak barrels from there as ominous as the name sounds?

—Jeff C., Denville, N.J.

Dear Jeff,

Slavonia is a region in northeastern Croatia. Perhaps it will help if you think of it as a former part of Yugoslavia. Long before that, it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and the ancient Romans knew it as Pannonia.

Slavonian oak barrels are highly regarded in the wine community; in particular, they’re in fashion in Italy’s Piedmont region. I’ve heard that—like most wood used for barrels—the oak grown in the region is known for compact fibers and a tight grain. Most distinctively, Slavonian barrels tend to be large, and because of the ratio of the wine’s surface area to the inside of the barrel, larger barrels are said to impart more subtle flavors and softer tannins.

—Dr. Vinny

Winemaking Techniques Explained Croatia Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Which grapes are used in the sparkling wine Blanquette de Limoux?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny, with an assist from associate editor Gillian Sciaretta, …

Mar 30, 2020

Should I sip wine with food in my mouth to appreciate a wine-and-food pairing?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that enjoying wine and food together is all …

Mar 27, 2020

In wine and grapevines, what’s the difference between a “clone” and a “selection”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny calls in vine expert Carole Meredith to explain how a …

Mar 25, 2020

Why are grapes so much more popular for making wine than other fruits?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what's so special about wine grapes.

Mar 23, 2020

What should I do with a wine I don't like?

When life gives you lemons, Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny makes sangria.

Mar 20, 2020

What does "mineral" refer to in wine tasting notes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what we mean when we talk about "minerality" in …

Mar 18, 2020