Wines Two Ways: Oaked and Unoaked

To Oak, or not to Oak, a phrase I took from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and changed the words around a little. But going a step further and delving into the tools that winemaker’s have in their hip pocket, are all the tools necessary? Some winemakers think they have to follow a certain recipe or protocol in winemaking to make their wines acceptable. The reality of it is, there are many tools at the fingertips of us winemakers; designer yeasts for tailored flavor profiles exploiting the grapes natural compounds, enzymes for color enhancement, or sulfur dioxide, an all-important savior in the winemaking process to name a few. The question comes up on a regular basis: Just because the tool exists, do we need to use it? Yeasts, most certainly, should be considered. Enzymes are somewhat of a judgment call; depending on the grape, you might just be throwing away money. In my opinion, sulfur dioxide is a must. There is a reason that the prize offered in the eighteenth century in France for a comparable substitute for sulfur dioxide still remains