What is that Baking Spice Note in my Wine?

It happens again and again lately–my red wines smell and taste like baking spice.  When I first noticed it it was delightful…cloves and cinnamon, what a great flavor to get in wine, right?

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But now I’m noticing that too many red wines are like this.  Generally high-production, $25 and under sorts.  In short, the kind we buy all the time for everyday meals.  In combination with softness and sometimes oversweetness, it makes for wines indistinct of place and tasting like every other bottle.

Baking spice is one of the smells and tastes that results from oak.  And just as a chardonnay can be too oaky, so, too can a red wine.   There are so many distinct varietals and terroirs for a winemaker to paint a picture with, why ruin it by masking it with oak?

Wines can be made in a mass-market style to appeal to as many palates as possible, or they can be little works of art, like the meals made by the rat in Ratatouille.  I open each bottle with trepidation, never knowing if the winemaker has chosen the former or the latter route.

Is this a problem for you?  What do you do to avoid too much oak?  We have started buying a few natural wines here and there, but they are hit and miss.

-Carol

Want to know more about how I feel about smells in wine?

Bad Smells in Wine

Identifying Citrus Notes in Wine

Identifying Licorice Notes in Wine

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