Eastern European Oak

Definition - What does Eastern European Oak mean?

Eastern European Oak refers to the origin of the oak used to make some wine barrels that are used to age wine. Wine barrels made from the Eastern European Oak are made from the timber of the oak species Quercus Petraea. Eastern European oak is characterized by a varied yellow to deep amber color and fairly porous and coarse grain. Eastern European oak is harvested from forests in:

  • Sylvania
  • Slovakia
  • Ukraine
  • Russia
  • Romania
  • Lithuania
  • Hungary

When Eastern European Oak is used to make barrels, the barrels are then air dried and toasted or charred to varying levels depending on the preference of vintners for the type of wine they’re making.

WineFrog explains Eastern European Oak

Eastern European Oak offers the wine industry another option for oak to make wine barrels in addition to French oak and American Oak. When wine is aged in a wooden barrel, the wood not only allows for oxygenation and evaporation during aging, but also imparts flavors and tannins to the wine, so the type of wood used is very important. Oak grown in different regions will share many of the same characteristics while developing terroir from the region where it is grown; their characteristics also vary by individual species.

Eastern European oak shares many of the same characteristics that other types of oak offer, including high tannin levels and anti-microbial and anti-bacterial compounds but differs in the porosity and density of the wood grain. The density of the grain determines how quickly the wine saturates the wood and how the wood releases tannins and other compounds into the wine.

Oak wood has traditionally been used to age wine as it creates a watertight barrel, but the structure of the wood allows for evaporation, which softens the tannins and concentrates the flavors in the wine. Eastern European Oak barrels offer winemakers the same benefits of using French Oak at a more affordable cost while still providing the same flavor profile as French Oak. Oak barrels can impart many flavors to wine, like vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

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