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Guide to Oak?

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Ignoble Grape

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Hi all - First time I've checked on my 2018 Merlot in 4 months - it's beautiful. Very heavy on cranberry, subtle dark chocolate. Not much else that I can pick up on. I need to oak it. Is there a guide that gives a side-by-side comparison of the different qualities of oak and what other aroma/taste characteristics they pair well with?

Tried an internet search for Merlot, cranberries, and dark chocolate, and came up with some delicious looking brownie recipes. There must be a better way.

If not, I'd love some suggestions from the peanut gallery.
 

CDrew

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If you want to use the Stavin Cubes, the calculator is useful:

https://www.stavin.com/oak-dosage-calculators/

I would likely use Medium or Medium+ toast, 20% new barrel taste, and leave for 2 months then remove and taste.

I also thought the Winestix were easy to use and the flavors were complementary, so they are another good choice.

I learned the hard way in 2018 that it's easy to overoak, so I recommend you shoot at the low end of any recommendations and add more if at first it seems under oaked.

If you read the MoreWine recommendations-I think they call for too much oak but they do have a good discussion about different oak types

.https://morewinemaking.com/web_files/intranet.morebeer.com/files/oakinfopaper09.pdf
 

Ignoble Grape

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If you want to use the Stavin Cubes, the calculator is useful:

https://www.stavin.com/oak-dosage-calculators/

I would likely use Medium or Medium+ toast, 20% new barrel taste, and leave for 2 months then remove and taste.

I also thought the Winestix were easy to use and the flavors were complementary, so they are another good choice.

I learned the hard way in 2018 that it's easy to overoak, so I recommend you shoot at the low end of any recommendations and add more if at first it seems under oaked.

If you read the MoreWine recommendations-I think they call for too much oak but they do have a good discussion about different oak types

.https://morewinemaking.com/web_files/intranet.morebeer.com/files/oakinfopaper09.pdf
This is great - the second link is a fantastic primer.
 

CDrew

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This is great - the second link is a fantastic primer.
Like all of the MoreWine white papers it's a great resource. Just remember I recommend you decrease the amount of oak a bit from their recommendations. I used at the lower end of the recommended level 0.5 oz per gallon and it was clearly too much for the Primitivo I made last year, even though it's a fairly robust wine. Using the Stavin calculator for "beans" (what they call the cubes) MoreWine's recommendations are for 100% new barrel taste which is just too much. So for a delicate wine like your Merlot, use maybe 20-25% new barrel taste and only for 2 months.

Last year with the Primitivo I have, was great at 2 months and over oaked at 3 when I racked away from the beans. I'm hoping time will mellow the flavor a bit since I have 10 cases of it. But if not, it was a good lesson learned.
 
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