Wine Components – Oak, Alcohol Content, and Body
Now we will discuss to some other important components in wine: Oak, Alcohol, and Body.
Remember all of the components – Fruit, Acidity, Tannin, but also Oak, Alcohol Content, and Body should work together in harmony for a good wine.
Oak in Wine
Oak is a component of wine, but it is not always in all wines. Think of an oak barrel like the winemaker’s spice rack. Oak can change the taste of wine, color, and the texture of wine. Think about oak again like salt. Too much salt will overwhelm a dish just like too much oak will overwhelm a wine. The longer a wine ages in oak, the more flavor and color it imparts. So how can you tell if a wine has been oaked? In white wines, the oak aging deepens the color of the wine. In both red and white wine if you smell vanilla, caramel, or smoky aromas this is a hint that the wine has been aged in oak!
The alcohol content in wine is an important component. Too much alcohol, and the wine might feel hot and may burn a bit. You’ll need the other components to balance out the alcohol. That isn’t to say that a wine with 16% alcohol is too alcoholic or unbalanced, just that all the components need to work together to taste awesome. You can find the alcohol content on each bottle.
For more info on the wine label, go back to Course 1 on How to Read a Wine Label.
The body of the wine is the final piece of the puzzle. The body is the general weight or fullness of the wine. There are three categories of body: light, medium, and full bodied wine. Think about the differences you feel between milk, cream, and yogurt. The main contributing factor to body is the alcohol content. The more alcohol in a wine, the heavier the wine feels in your mouth. The grape varietal is also a factor – different grapes make wines that are lighter or fuller bodied. Think about the difference between the Pinot Noir and the Syrah that you’ve tasted.
Heavier bodied wines are typically wines that have a high sugar content. Warmer climates produce grapes that are riper and more ripeness means more sugar. The more sugar in the grapes, the higher potential alcohol content in the wine. Remember… The Formula for Wine: sugar (grape juice) + yeast = Alcohol & Carbon Dioxide therefore, if there is more sugar in the grape juice, there is more to convert to alcohol.
Each varietal gives a different texture…you’ll find out more on the guided tasting, but here is a peek for Pinot Noir varietal.