Personally I do not like white wines with “wood” taste. As a matter of fact I don’t add anything to white wines except of course sometimes acids if needed.
I would not call acids additions because acids are necessary for wine. Oak chips, tannin and vanilla I would call additions.
This week I was drinking a white wine (From the supermarket) and I could taste a big mistake that I also have made in the past. Too much wood! Really a huge mistake for a professional winemaker.
In the past I tried a few things and I have learned that it is very easy to add too much. It sounds very logical but the mistake is easily made.
Here are some examples of my wrong train of thought.
I prefer red wine, however I am not able to get wine grapes. So I tried making wine from red grape juice from the supermarket. Unfortunately it ended up as a very watery light red without body. I thought that I should try it again but then add some oak chips for a woody taste and also some tannins.
Again a big failure. The wine would not taste like wine at all but just like wood. Although I did not think I added a lot of chips it gave very much flavor.
According to the package you should add 5 to 30 grams per 10 liter. This seems very little but I have to agree that this amount of oak is correct.
The second thing I tried was vanilla. American oak gives a slight vanilla taste to wine which I also like. So I used 1 stick of vanilla for 25 liter wine. I did not think that it would give much flavor but again I was very wrong. The wine taste was completely overpowered with vanilla. I haven’t tried it since but if I would try it again I would use maximum 20% of a stick for 25 liter.
Another addition you can use is tannin. It does not do very much for the taste but it has a special mouth feel. I guess you can say that it turns the inside of your mouth to sandpaper. I like it in red wines. It makes them a bit more powerful.
I have 2 kinds. One for white wines and one for red wines. I think the only difference is the color. I like the one for red wines. It gives them a little extra.
I also wanted to try it in a white wine but that was a disappointment. I prefer white wines to be fresh and young. Like springtime. The tannin takes that away and turns the wine in a grumpy old man. So no more tannin in white.
The package says to use half a teaspoon per 10 liter but I think that this is not enough. I use ten times that amount.
For red wines a great addition is banana. I have no idea why but I have the feeling that it gives red wine body. Mash them with some water and add to the wine. I use 1 or 2 banana’s for 25 liter wine.
Another thing I like to use are dried elderberries. Fresh elderberries are perfect for red wine. I make it every year. Unfortunately they are only available for a short period. When they are not available I used to make red wines from kits. Which I will not do anymore because they are not good enough.
To upgrade these kits I added some dried elderberries which I bought. Not too much. 50 to 100 grams per 25 liter. (Which is a lot of dried berries) It made the wines a lot better. It really adds something interesting.
It is very difficult to find out what ingredient you can add to improve your wine. And unfortunately you will find out the result only after many months of waiting. The best advice I can give you is to use small quantities.