Trinity Red Blend and American Oak

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thunderwagn

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I have a WE California Trinity Red Blend kit and I do plan on adding the oak "dust" as per instructions, but I think I'd also like to add some oak chips that I have as well. I have some American Oak medium toast chips that I typically use for spirits and wondering if anyone has used American Oak with this kit. Seems most in the world of wine use French. I'm thinking of adding about to oz right to the primary, or should I wait and add after my 1st racking? I'm open for suggestions.
 

winemaker81

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Last fall I used American and French oak as fermentation oak in separate batches of Merlot. The American came out fruitier while the French had stronger oak tones.

I've not made that kit, but in general, you can use any oak you want in any wine with good results. Using American will produce a different taste, but that's not a bad thing.
 

Johnd

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I have a WE California Trinity Red Blend kit and I do plan on adding the oak "dust" as per instructions, but I think I'd also like to add some oak chips that I have as well. I have some American Oak medium toast chips that I typically use for spirits and wondering if anyone has used American Oak with this kit. Seems most in the world of wine use French. I'm thinking of adding about to oz right to the primary, or should I wait and add after my 1st racking? I'm open for suggestions.
Oak used during fermentation is largely sacrificial, giving up it's tannins in the process to bind with color molecules in the wine to aid in color retention, that's what the "oak dust" is probably intended for in your kit. If you are looking for oak to impart flavor into your wine, it is best used later in the process, after fermentation is complete. Depending upon what product you use, the time the oak needs to sit in the wine varies. Generally speaking, the smaller the oak pieces, the faster it gives up the goods, but the less refined the results are due to the length of the wood grain. Choose your oaking medium according to your desired outcome, dust, chips, beans, spirals, wine stix, barrels, etc., toast is a whole different conversation.

As far as wood species, French oak is much more tight grained than American oak, yielding finer textured wine with silky mouthfeel, while the American oak yields a little less refined mouthfeel, but sweeter and stronger oak taste with vanilla / creme soda type notes. Both are very good in my book, just different. The smaller oak adjuncts give up their taste in a few weeks, whereas the longer grained oak like wine stix can take 2-3 months, and barrels can take years depending upon the size.

Before switching to barrels, my preferred oak adjunct was wine stix, which I didn't put into the carboy until I had racked off of the fine lees at least once, that way the oak could stay in there undisturbed by racking activities. Regardless of the method you choose, regular tasting should be done, and oak removed when the oaky flavor is just a bit more than you would like in the finished wine, as it will fall off a bit while it's in the bottle.
 

winemaker81

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Oak used during fermentation is largely sacrificial, giving up it's tannins in the process to bind with color molecules in the wine to aid in color retention
Everything I read said that fermentation oak would not affect flavor, but my experience was a significant difference between American & French.

Note -- this may be due to the amount of oak used. I used the amount specified on the package, which left me with ~3/4 cup shredded oak, which I added anyway as it wasn't worth storing. The total was 1 lb shredded oak in 4 lugs (144 lbs) of grapes, which produced ~10 gallons of raw wine. I'm very happy with the result and will be doing this again in the fall.

Kits don't include anywhere near that amount of oak dust.
 

Johnd

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Everything I read said that fermentation oak would not affect flavor, but my experience was a significant difference between American & French.

Note -- this may be due to the amount of oak used. I used the amount specified on the package, which left me with ~3/4 cup shredded oak, which I added anyway as it wasn't worth storing. The total was 1 lb shredded oak in 4 lugs (144 lbs) of grapes, which produced ~10 gallons of raw wine. I'm very happy with the result and will be doing this again in the fall.

Kits don't include anywhere near that amount of oak dust.
I've always read the same, and it has been my experience that there is little to no effect by fermentation oak, though I've never used anywhere close to the amount you did. I probably should have been more clear regarding quantities, and can see where using more in AF could impart flavor, might be something for me to consider trying the in the future to give my wine a little kick-start before hitting the barrel........
 

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