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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Do winemakers process wines differently that are considered “fruit forward,” and are these wines approachable earlier than they would be otherwise?

—Dave W., Akron, Ohio

Dear Dave,

If a winemaker intends to make a fruit-forward wine, possibly the biggest decision he or she makes is about the use of oak barrels, as fermenting or aging a wine in oak can impart flavors that might compete with with a wine’s fruitiness. Many other decisions along the way can emphasize (or deemphasize) a fruit-forward nature, like when to pick the grapes, what type of yeast is used and whether and how to blend.

Are fruit-forward wines approachable early on? That’s a pretty broad question, to which I’d broadly answer “yes.” Fruit-forward wines tend to lose that quality as they get older, as the fruit flavors fade and the wine takes on more mature notes. That’s not to say a fruit-forward wine won’t age well—I’ve had plenty that did. But wines made in that style are more likely to be designed for early consumption.

—Dr. Vinny

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