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Non-oaked red wine

Cattie Jan 14, 2009 11:02 AM

Hi all
I can only drink red wines (which I love) during the winter (after the first frost and up until the pollen starts going nuts). I'm extremely allergic to oak pollen, and the other night (seriously, it's taken me like 20 years to think of this) it finally dawned on me - red wines are usually aged in oak. Duh!

I'm wondering if there are any non-oaked reds (a Google search yielded only whites, which I can drink year round), and if it might make a difference... I managed to find a biodynamic red (I'm in MA, and consumers here are not allowed to order wine online - yet. A recent court ruling might change that, hopefully) and it did seem to be a tad better.

So my question to you all is: are there any reds aged in steel?

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  1. Caralien RE: Cattie Jan 14, 2009 11:28 AM

    Nouveau Beaujolais and a lot of the more budget-friendly wines from S. America seem to be (I haven't looked it up recently, but I believe this is the case).

    If your local store has a listing of their wines, ask for it and look up the companies online.

    1. j
      JE33 RE: Cattie Jan 14, 2009 11:42 AM

      look into Barbera-a medium bodied Italian varietal. as often as not it is unoaked and it also is not very tannic so should minimize related allergic reactions.

      should be broadly available in MA and not too expensive

      good luck

      1. SteveTimko RE: Cattie Jan 14, 2009 11:51 AM

        Don't limit yourself to stainless steel. A lot of wines are made in big clay vessels.
        Go to a good local wine store, explain your problem and see what they can recommend.
        For starters.
        Bodegas Tintoralba SCL Higueruela Grenache, Almansa
        Tasty wine and inexpensive.

        I've heard Di Majo Norante sangiovese is not made in oak, but I can't confirm it.

        Almansenas "La Huella de Adaras" is an Eric Solomon import, so it's widely distributed. I've never had it but it sounds interesting:

        1. b
          Brad Ballinger RE: Cattie Jan 14, 2009 11:56 AM

          I believe the basic Borsao Campo de Borja wine is unoaked. Also Los Roca Garnacha, Vega del Roya Rioja, Domaine de Gabelas St. Chinian, Boroli Dolcetto d'Alba. That's all that come to mind right now.

          1. b
            BN1 RE: Cattie Jan 14, 2009 12:03 PM

            2005 Massa, “Mattei", Barbera is a good example.

            1. j
              jlafler RE: Cattie Jan 14, 2009 01:27 PM

              I recently tasted a completely un-oaked Cabernet blend from this winery:

              They call it a claret. Unfortunately, they seem to be sold out of the 2002, which is what we tasted, but they're probably making more.

              1. oolah RE: Cattie Jan 14, 2009 05:52 PM

                There are a lot of unoaked reds, and lucky for you, most of them tend to be cheaper than the oaked ones.

                In general, unoaked wines are meant to be drunk young, so look for medium-bodied young reds from Italy like Grignolino, Dolcetto D'Alba or Sangiovese, and from France like Beaujolais or Bourgueil. Talk to your wine shop person -- not ALL of these will be unoaked, but you'll definitely find some that are.

                1. c
                  Cattie RE: Cattie Jan 15, 2009 09:11 AM

                  Thank you all for your input! I'm psyched to hear that there are some options out there. And I'm especially excited to try the Spanish and Italian wines. I do like the heavy rich reds, not a big fan of young and fruity stuff, and it sounds from the descriptions of those that they would be something I'd like. I'll let you know when I try them and how it goes! :-)

                  1. maria lorraine RE: Cattie Jan 15, 2009 08:13 PM

                    The Wine Spectator answered this question less than a week ago:
                    Q. Can oak aging of wine affect people with tree allergies?

                    A: No. According to Dr. Jonathan Mozena of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, "Individuals who are allergic to trees are allergic to tree pollen. The barrel contains only wood, which poses no health issues to the tree-allergic individual."
                    Thursday, January 08, 2009

                    The idea that you can drink red wines in winter indicates that you probably aren't allergic to any oak that may be leeched from the barrel into the wine. I'd check out your specific oak allergy with your allergist as you may not need to avoid oaked wines. Good luck to you.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: maria lorraine
                      Cattie RE: maria lorraine Jan 16, 2009 11:21 AM

                      Very interesting, maria. I had not seen that, but it seems I'm not the only one who was wondering... No, I don't have to avoid oaked in the winter, but I can't drink reds in the summer, so it must be something else. I get an insta-migraine when I try. The search goes on...

                      1. re: Cattie
                        bucksguy14 RE: Cattie Jan 16, 2009 11:31 AM

                        Interesting topic. I get a sneezing fit with some, not all, red wines, oaked or not. My Dr. and a friend who's a wine devotee, both told me that, more likely than not, it's a mold allergy. Apparently there can be mold from the sulfites in red wine.

                        1. re: bucksguy14
                          Wineack RE: bucksguy14 Jan 17, 2009 10:02 AM

                          It is more likely to be a histamine that is found in the grape skin. Sulfites would tend to inhibit mold rather than cause it.

                          1. re: Wineack
                            maria lorraine RE: Wineack Jan 17, 2009 01:39 PM

                            Yes, that is what sulfites do.

                            To determine the specific alllergy, cattie, please get tested. Otherwise, you may be avoiding wonderful tasty things you don't need to avoid!

                            1. re: Wineack
                              cockscomb RE: Wineack Jan 24, 2009 12:00 AM

                              agreed.. headaches from wine are more often associated with histamines (naturally occuring) or drinking too much! people seem to self diagnose with an allergy to sulfites but they are naturally occuring as well. go to the doc for sure cuz you don't want to give up the possibilities of delicious stuff!!

                              1. re: cockscomb
                                Bill Hunt RE: cockscomb Jun 15, 2011 07:40 PM

                                Headaches are often associated with dehydration, so a glass of water, per glass of red wine, might mitigate the problems.

                                I strongly agree with ML, and would be tested.



                          2. re: Cattie
                            SteveG RE: Cattie Jan 29, 2009 10:39 AM

                            Also, don't forget that many Chardonnays and a few other white varietals in the new world are fermented in oak...so if you can drink those in the summer, it isn't the barrels.

                            In terms of pollen somehow getting into the wine, I'd say it's impossible. The barrels are assembled and then custom toasted to a winery's specifications, generally at a different facility. The toasting process involves searing the interior of the barrel with direct flame until it's to the right level of char, which would surely destroy any pollen clinging to the lumber.

                          3. re: maria lorraine
                            glowworm RE: maria lorraine Jun 11, 2011 11:44 AM

                            I am in a similar situation and it isn't that I think that pollen is in the wine, rather I am considering the possibility that I am also allergic to some other element of oak however, since I don't suck on oak trees the only time I would encounter this element is via wine. Of course, it could be something else, as others have suggested, so I have started keeping track of wine vs how I feel to see if any consistent pattern emerges.

                            1. re: glowworm
                              maria lorraine RE: glowworm Jun 14, 2011 08:37 AM

                              I can think of at least ten substances in wine that will cause problems in people. From malolactic fermentation (especially those in the US) to histamines to tyramines to ethyl alcohol to toxic alcohols (congeners) formed during fast fermentations (cheap wine). It's important not to blame one thing when another thing may truly be the culprit.

                          4. w
                            whiner RE: Cattie Jan 16, 2009 03:17 AM

                            There are a lot of Italian reds not aged in oak. Some of the less expensive Barberas and some Langhe Nebbiolos come to mind. Also, some wines from Sardegna (Dettori Tuderi). I've had some Red Loire that I don't think saw any oak treatment, too...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: whiner
                              cockscomb RE: whiner Jan 24, 2009 12:03 AM

                              mmmmm tuderi!

                            2. s
                              somervilleGM RE: Cattie Jan 29, 2009 06:24 AM

                              In MA, there is a biodynamic Un-Oaked wine from Priorat in Spain, called Nita. it is a blend of Carinena, Syrah and garnacha. Some southern French vin de Pays are also unoaked but you need to be careful.

                              1. Vinny Barbaresco RE: Cattie Jan 30, 2009 10:20 PM

                                A fairly large portion of Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Villages never see any wood at all. The elevage (post fermentation ageing of the wine) is usaully done in expoxyed cement tanks, glass lined cement tanks, resin, inox or ceramic vats. Some producers do use foudres (very large oak barrels) so you have to check with your wine merchant or research the producers online.

                                I know that Feraud-Brunel Cotes du Rhone Villages is aged in ceramic vats.

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