BUZZ: HEY, Marnie. I was at the state store the other day and saw a whole stack of "naked" wines. Does that mean the winemakers are undressed when they stomp on the grapes?
Marnie: No, silly. "Naked" is a tongue-in-cheek term vintners use to describe wines that taste only of pure grapes, with no oak in their flavor. You might also see similar wines called "unwooded" or "unoaked."
Buzz: Say what? Does that mean most wines are tree-flavored?
Marnie: That depends on the kind of wine. There are many styles that aren't given oak-barrel treatment - mostly whites like Riesling, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. These wines taste better younger and fresher, and don't need the toasty flavor or texture enrichment that aging in oak barrels provide. But others, like chardonnay and almost all red wines, benefit so much from barrels that we've come to think of their oaky versions as normal. When a winemaker decides to skip the oak to make a lighter, brighter version, they need a way to let the consumer know - hence the new wave of "naked" wines.