Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Why vanilla?

By Jessica Yadegaran
Thursday, December 28th, 2006 at 9:32 am in Uncategorized.

In taking Monica’s class on putting words to wine, I’m sure the flavor of vanilla will come up. After all, it’s used as a descriptor in some many wines, both red and white. Why? Because those wines were most likely made or aged in oak barrels. When barrels are made, the wood is toasted over a fire in order to make the staves malleable for shaping. Toasting also creates chemical reactions in the wood that result in certain flavors. Much like grilling in meat creates certain flavors, toasting creates the chemical compound vanillin, the molecule for the flavor vanilla. You’ll notice wines that are made or aged in stainless steels tanks don’t have a vanilla flavor.

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