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Oak aromas in wines

Roasted coffee

23 June 2020

The aromatic note of roasting is one of the smells that oak can give to wine during aging. Studies have shown that the molecule linked to this smell is 2-furanemethanethiol. This compound was first identified in 1926 in roasted coffee.


In wines, 2-furanemethanethiol is the result of chemical reactions between different compounds from oak wood (such as furfural), and compounds linked to the microorganisms coming from the different stages of wine making. Therefore, the alcoholic or malolactic fermentation in barrels and the significant presence of lees will influence the formation of this compound and therefore the perception of this aromatic note of roasting.


As a reminder, furfural, which is partly responsible for the formation of 2-furanemethanethiol, is a compound formed during the barrel heating step from wood cellulose. It gives the wine notes of toast and toasted almonds.


The roasted character of wines aged in barrels is associated with wines of character, complex and whose aging in barrels is clearly noticeable. This note brings an important empyreumatic dimension to the wines while reinforcing the varietal aromas of the grape like fruity but especially spicy aromas.


The series “Aromas of oak in wines” highlights the odorous molecules that oak gives to wines during aging. Wine making is a very technical process, encompassing several phases of work, from harvesting the grapes to bottling, including aging. At each of these stages, aromas will develop in the wines, defining their final profile. One of the objectives of aging in oak barrels is to give the wine a certain number of aromas in order to increase the complexity of the profile. The challenge is therefore to control this aromatic contribution: the complexity must not distort the profile of the grape variety and the aromatic notes resulting from fermentation. This is the mission of the oenologist or the cellar master in collaboration with his cooper.

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