Wine Talk

Snooth User: napagirl68

Oxidized wine.. ..

Posted by napagirl68, Jun 19, 2013.


I recently bought a bottle of wine that was obviously oxidized (maderized) unintentionally, and had no obvious cork leakage/faults.  

Obviously, wines left opened too long end up with this awful brownish-red liquid,and nasty pruney smell.  But this was a brand new bottle, from the winery.  The fortunate part was that I chose to open it there (at the winery) to drink.  It was replaced quickly with a new bottle that was perfect.  But it prevented me from buying more of this wine, because my initial thought was STORAGE issues. But this winery, although small, is not inexperienced in storage/heat issues to my knowledge.

What could explain this?  are there other causes in the winemaking/bottling process that could cause oxidation?  Again, cork looked good...

Hoping the Gregs will chime in...


Reply by outthere, Jun 19, 2013.

First thought would be storage but you were at the winery so this is likely not the cause. Cleanliness is next to Godliness when it comes to winemaking. Vessels that are not sterilized, using a thief that has not been properly cleaned, improper sulphur treatment etc will generally affect the entire barrel and not just one bottle. Hard to say what this one had going on.

I thought you were in Napa, not Burgundy :p

Reply by Manny Schrager, Jun 19, 2013.

On the lighter side, went to restaurant last week and selected a wine.  When the (new/young) waitress gave it to me to try, It had the distinct smell of a mildewed basement so I told her the wine was off.  She did come back with another bottle, which was fine.  However I enjoyed her explanation of what was wrong with the first one.  :The wine was fine - it was the cork that was bad."

Reply by GregT, Jun 21, 2013.

NG - the first thing that comes to mind is to ask whether it was "natural" wine or something of that sort?

We had problems with Europeans who announce with great fanfare that they don't sulfur and after the wine comes by ship and gets shaken around in transit then sits on a dock, you don't get the same wine you're getting at the winery. So most of the "natural" producers aren't stupid and they sulfur their wines for the US.

Second thing that comes to mind is faulty closure? Was it a natural cork? If so, and if they opened another bottle, it could have simply been a bad cork. Note that if it's stored too warm, that's going to accelerate any reactions too.And if it was a synthetic closure, that would be the worst.

But then you have a lot of other issues. Oxygen usually requires the presence of some kind of catalyst or agent. And there are two kinds of oxidation.

You can oxidize the stuff from the grapes, mostly phenols, or you can oxidize the alcohol. In the latter case, you first get hydrogen peroxide and then that reacts to create the oxidation we sense. But the first one is what's blamed in Burgundy. If you press roughly, you get more phenols pressed out and they can mop up oxygen. But gentle pressing extracts less and some people think that's why we're seeing premature oxidation - it's due to the wine making.

In the case of alcoholic oxidation, it's a little weird because the sulfur does not bind directly with the oxygen, it binds with the oxidized product and masks that, but I guess the wine is already oxidized, you just don't notice it.

In your case, it's not entirely clear. If they had oxidation prior to bottling, then your wine was messed up from the outset. Maybe it wasn't handled well, maybe not stored well, maybe not made well. In Burgundy there are big problems with oxidation of their whites and a lot of people are associating that with their winemaking methods for the past few years, and ironically it looks like being too gentle may be the problem.

Would love to talk to the wine maker about your bottle. Sorry I can't help more but it's not something I know a lot about.

Reply by napagirl68, Jun 21, 2013.

No, GregT and OT, I was NOT in Burgundy (damn it!).  I was in Carneros.  And no, it was not purported as "organic" or natural.

I will not say name of winery because I enjoyed the wine, and HOPE this was a one-off.  I just NEVER, EVER in my 20 some-odd years of wine drinking, ever had this be an issue with a proven good wine- especially direct from the winery.  Yes, I have had it with "bargain" wines that may have been DOA or bad storage.  But not after having a bottle of the same wine at winery be amazing!  Crazy. 

I am leaning toward cleanliness or sulfur with this one... I just don't know.  It is frustrating for sure, and the tasting room person was taken aback as well, poured it down the drain ( she should have held it for the winemaker).


Reply by zufrieden, Jun 28, 2013.

I have had these annoying situations too, but never with a Stelvin closure.  I assume you had cork closure, but from a very reputable winery.

These problems seem to be a bit more prevalent in recent years, but it is difficult to know why.

Reply by napagirl68, Jul 1, 2013.

Thanks, Zuf.  Yes a cork closure with a very reputable winery.  As I said, I have had ~15-18% cork taint over the years, but NEVER, EVER an oxidized bottle that was DOA.   I may try to contact the winery...

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