You've got Wine Questions, We have Wine Answers
Q: What do we mean when we say a wine is Buttery?
A: These flavors appear after a wine goes through a second fermentation that transforms the acids in white wines from one form, Malic acid, to another, Lactic Acid. Lactic acid is much gentler to the taste, and it is often found in milk and butter. Chardonnay is often softened like this, and many chardonnays have a buttery, creamy layer underneath their primary fruit flavors.
Q: How is Oak used in Wine and why?
A: Oak was first used in Ancient times as a less cumbersome method of storage than traditional clay jars, but soon they noticed that wine stored in oak barrels changed, gaining flavors from the lightly toasted wood. These days, Oak is used for two reasons: to impart flavor and to mellow the wine. Oak is where the flavors of vanilla, toast and smoke come from in complex reds. New oak barrels, which impart the most flavor, are quite expensive, and are often used only once on top wines! Older oak, that has been used many seasons, imparts less flavor, but is still sought after to allow the wine to integrate and become smoother.