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"Oak" or No Oak", The White Wine Dilemma

“Oak” or “No Oak”, The White Wine Dilemma



There is so much white wine being made in many different countries, regions and appellations around the world.  When it comes to white wine though,  it seems like there is a line that is drawn in the sand when it comes to the consumers.  On one side you have people who will only drink wines that have an oak flavor to them.  On the other side, it seems like people will drink anything as long as there is no oak involved.  This is one of the most common occurrences we run into here at the Wine Library.  Don’t worry though!  We are here to go over the differences in styles and hope to get the right bottle for you!


We Want The Oak!

Oak is most known to give a white wine a heavy level of richness.  It is one of the reasons why oak is also connected to the body of a wine.  Most of the richest white wines in the world get to that point because of the amount of time that the juice spends in oak!

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine bought in America.  Most Chardonnay spends some time in oak. The most popular, made in California, is known to have a heavy influence of oak on their wines.  Since the wines are so popular, other places are doing the same thing.  You can find oaky Chardonnay in places like Argentina, South Africa, and even some appellations of Burgundy!

Lets stray away from Chardonnay for a minute though.  There are other places in the world where oak is used with different grapes.  One of the most known is Bordeaux.  White Bordeaux is made of mainly Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.  Yes, oak aged Sauvignon Blanc!  These wines can be very complex and rich in their own way.  If you are looking for something oaky, but sick of Chardonnay, this is a great place to look for a cool new wine!

Here are a couple wines for our oak lovers:


Oak is Not For Me!

Let us talk about the other side of the coin, which is most of the white wine in the world.  The people who love oak are normally talking about Chardonnay, but when it comes to people who don’t like oak, they are willing to try anything. They have such a wide range of wines to choose from. 

Overall though most people are looking for a more crisp and light white wine that they can chill down and enjoy.  Things like Sauvignon Blanc (not from Bordeaux) and Pinot Grigio come to mind as the most common made in this style.  There are some others as well, like Riesling, Albarino, and Torrontes.  All are mainly aged in either stainless steel or cement and don’t have the richness that an oaked wine would have.  

A couple regions that are the most popular are Sancerre, Alto Adige, and New Zealand.  These regions are known to have crisp minerally whites that are best with a chill.  There are so many wines out there that don’t use oak out there that you can get lost in your options.  

So what kind of white wines do you prefer?  Do you like the lingering notes of vanilla and baking spice?  Or is something fruity, light, and crisp more your style?  Either way, you have a ton of options at your fingertips.  While these examples of wine may be on the ends of the spectrum when it comes to using oak, there are a ton in the middle as well.  When looking for the perfect wine, don’t be afraid to ask a consultant, they can steer you in the right direction!



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