Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I wanted to know what makes a Chardonnay fermented and aged in oak barrels less oaky than Chardonnays fermented in stainless steel and aged in oak barrels.

—Aline, Angwin, Calif.

Dear Aline,

There are a number of variables to consider besides the ones you mentioned. Barrels can vary in potency—it depends on how toasted a barrel is, and how old it is (the younger, the stronger). It also depends on how long a wine spends in its barrel. Without knowing the specifics of the two wines you’re describing, there can be enough of an impact from these variables to help explain what you’re tasting.

—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.