Ask Wine Wizard

Reducing Oak Flavor In Wine


Bob Lenertz — Waseca, Minnesota asks,

I used oak in one of my trials of Minnesota Marquette wine. My trial was 5 gallons (19 L). Is there a way to filter off some of the oak taste?

I’m so pleased you’ve done some oak trials! If you’ve read my column over the years you know that I’m always advising our intrepid readers to do small-scale trials (sometimes I call them “bench trials” after the “lab bench” work surface of your average winery enologist) before they commit to an additive or course of action for their precious gallons. It sounds like you found a trial result that you weren’t too keen on, i.e. too much oak added to one of your carboys. I’m glad (and you should be too) that you only treated 5 gallons (19 L) of your wine; if you had done that oak treatment on a whole barrel (or more) you’d be dealing with a lot more unpleasant wine! Unfortunately, once we’ve added oak to a wine and it’s absorbed into the wine (whether via a barrel or oak beans, chips or segments), there’s no getting rid of it. The oak aromas, flavors and even a small amount of tannins and phenolic compounds have now become, for better or worse, intrinsically intertwined with the aromas,