Wine Word of the Week: Toast

By Kori ~ June 11th, 2009.

Wine Word of the WeekThis week’s Wine Word of the Week is toast.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Toast, given to a barrel when forming it over a heat source, is one of the processes in barrel making that most obviously affect eventual wine flavor. …. The toast provides a buffer between the alcohol in wine and the tannins in wood. In general, the less a barrel is toasted, the more tannins and other wood characteristics will be leached into the wine by the alcohol. Wine matured in lightly toasted barrels therefore tends to taste ‘oaky’, ‘woody’, or even ‘vegetal’, while wine matured in heavily toasted barrels is more likely to taste ‘toasty’ or ‘spicy’.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Toast is imparted on a wine barrel during the barrel making process using fire to caramelize but not burn the inside of the barrel. The toast level directly affects the eventual flavor of the finished wine. The more the toast, the less the oaky, woody flavor.

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