Technique

Unoaked Wine Kits

Not using oak on wine is a time-honored tradition for many varietals and styles, and often for good reason. There are few things as disconcerting and deeply weird as a heavily oaked Riesling, and few rosé wines show better with a heavy layer of deeply toasted oak covering their finish. Oak just doesn’t make sense with many highly floral-aromatic wines, which is why only a few of them get exposed to it, but there are some reds that are happy without oak as well. Almost all red wines do get at least some oak exposure, and the trend in the last 30 years has been to over-oak lesser wines to increase their price-point and salability. This is because oak is such an immensely useful tool. It’s often used in a knee-jerk way to bring out the character of wine (élevage), to cover flaws (cheating), to add a bit of glamour and sophistication to an otherwise undistinguished vintage (lipstick on a pig), and sometimes, just because “that’s the way it’s always been done” (mechanical winemaking). A happy reversal of this state