Why do you love wine?
Is it the juicy ripeness found in a good glass that has you hooked? Is it the socialising aspect that comes with it? Does the alcoholic component pique your love, or do you relish it for the fact you never know what you’ll get in each glass?
The diversity of flavours found in a single glass is what tends to draw a lot of people to wine. For many, the first sip of each new bottle is a surprise – they may be met with a fruity, red fruit flavour that tastes like what they think wine really is. However, the unpredictability of that first sip means we’re often met with a funky flavour that over time becomes an acquired taste we’ve grown to enjoy.
If you want to explore the funky flavours found in your wine, there are a few main groups to look out for.
Smells like: vinegar, nail polish remover, fruity raspberry or cherry
Tastes like: something sharp, spicy or pungent
The build-up of acetic acid in wine creates this pungent flavour, due to high levels of oxygen exposure during the winemaking process. At high levels, volatile acidity can cause wine to develop that sharpness reminiscent of nail polish remover, but it can yield a raspberry or cherry flavour at lower levels. Wines with longer fermentation processes tend to experience higher levels of volatile acidity.
Smells like: rotten egg, cooked cabbage, burnt rubber, onion
Tastes like: a subtle note of creaminess in texture
Ah, the good old smell of rotten egg in your wine. This occurs naturally through the process of reduction, which is the result of fermentation. Sulfur compounds may develop instead of oxygen compounds, resulting in savoury aromas at lower levels and that unmistakeable rotten egg and cooked cabbage flavour when reduction occurs at higher levels.
Smells like: medicinal, Band-Aids, sweaty leather
Tastes like: clove and spice aromas to horse barns
During the fermentation process, some winemakers choose to add a wild yeast called Brettanomyces (or Brett for short) to deliberately develop some pretty funky wine aromas. While these funky flavours have historically been confined to old world wines, Brett-like aromas can be found in modern wines thanks to their woody, leathery notes that evoke everything from Band-Aids to sweaty leather saddles.