WINES WITH LOW COLOR ARE OFTEN PERCEIVED IN THE MARKET AS LOW QUALITY.
Many winemakers use oak at primary fermentation to stabilize color and increase the important positive visual aspect of a wine. This stabilization occurs when oak compounds that are introduced bind to anthocyanin compounds, naturally found in wine, which allows them to remain in the must, rather than being lost during fermentation. NOTE: there is a degree of debate about the long term effectiveness of this process, however it is commonly accepted that oak can contribute positively in this respect.
recommended oak protocol
We recommend fermenting on small oak chips at a rate of 2-5 lbs per ton. As always smell and taste throughout fermentation and make secondary oak additions in larger oak formats such as staves or cubes for short and long aging. For more tips check out our Resources.
The most important thing we do is stabilize the color. One of the additional benefits is it can help reduce or eliminate any vegetal character if the grapes came with it from the vineyard."
Mike Robustelli, Winemaker at McManis Family Vineyards