Definition - What does Smoky mean?

Smoky is a characteristic in some wine which has been aged in oak barrels which impart certain smoky aromas or flavors. A smoky aroma from a barrel can be identified in the bouquet of a wine. It is a characteristic which can also be added to wine by barrel substitutes.

WineFrog explains Smoky

A wine which has a smoky character in its bouquet and flavor profile is often one which has been aged in a medium toast barrel or a barrel with heavier toasting and/or those with toasted heads.

However, some cheaper and lesser quality wines obtain this character by the use of oak substitutes, or even simpler, by adding a smoke-flavored liquid substitute.

The difference between a wine aged in oak and those with "added" smoky flavor are very noticeable. Those with additives of smoke characteristics are often unbalanced and the "smoke" aroma and flavor will feel as if it "floats" above the wine on your palate. Smoky aromas and flavors in wines aged in oak are more integrated and in balance.

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