White Oak is not the same as a White (Wine) in Oak


While American White Oak trees are used to make Wine barrels, the White Oak tree cannot be confused with a white wine that has been put in oak. These are two different things altogether.


There are several types of white wines that can stand to be put in oak barrels for any length of time. Three that come to readily mind are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and a Viognier.

Chardonnays are almost always processed in oak for some length of time to provide some tannins to control some of the acidy, as well as to impart some of the goodness that comes with oak. The butterscotch, vanilla, spice, nuts, and toast tastes and smells that add to the experience, for some people.

Not everyone likes oak. If you don’t, you probably drink a lot of Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Grigios. So you may have wondered why I put Sauvignon Blanc on my list of white wines I think of as being on oak.

It started in the 1960s when Robert Mundavi had a surplus of Sauvignon Blanc and was looking for a way to sell it. He places the Sauvignon Blanc in oak, created a marketing campaign calling this wine Fume Blanc and developed a whole new outlet for this grape and wine.

Fume Blanc is now considered a synonym for Sauvignon Blanc, although most people in the industry feel that the wine should be on oak to carry the Fume label. So if you get some notes of oak in a Sauvignon Blanc, it may be, or you could call it a Fume Blanc.

Oak isn’t just for Big Reds or Chardonnays. If you like the buttery taste and feel, there are a lot more whites out there to try that also get some oak. Be sure to ask your wine store to help you find a new favorite.


Steve spends his days living in the software world of Silicon Valley, dreaming of a day when he can live as a wino hobo riding a wine train.