Wine odor is one of the key markers of wine quality and, as a part of my series on wine quality, I have set myself the task of identifying and characterizing the sources of wine odor and showing how the interactions of these odor components aid in the perception of wine quality.
Wine is aged in wooden barrels to: (i) enhance its flavor, aroma, and complexity through transfer of substances from the wood to the wine; and (ii) allow gradual oxidation to occur. As a result of its “strength, resilience, workability, and lack of undesirable flavor,” oak is the wood of choice for most wine cooperage applications.
The oak used in the maturation of alcoholic beverages fall into one of three species: Quercus alba, Quercus robur, and Quercus sessilis. Q. robur and Q. sessilis, and their respective subspecies, are European white oaks while Q. alba is the source of 45% of the white oak lumber produced in the US. American oak used in barrel production is sourced from Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, and Michigan but there is no apparent regional distinction. European oak, on the other hand, may have designations which reach all the way to the forest from which the oak originated. For example, French oak from the department of Alliers may be sourced from a forest named Tronçais.
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Blog sourced from Wine — Mise en Abyme