jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ever heard of reduction? It's a complex sort of subject, which can best be summed up as complex sulfur compound chemistry. (here's an article on it, if you are curious.) Anyway, I opened an organic Soave the other day that was a perfect example of reduction, with a slightly acrid, smoky, flinty, rubbery sort of stink to it. It's the sort of thing that once you've spotted it, you are better at identifying it on future occasions. It's not like cork taint, which means you really can't drink the wine; in many cases reduction is a little more subtle, and spoils the fruit quality a bit without making the wine foul.

So I tried an experiment. You can fine out some of the stinky sulfur compounds using copper. So I went to my old coin collection (it was a sort of hobby I had when I was a kid) and picked out an old copper penny (you won't find much copper in present-day pennies). It turned out to be from 1966, when England last won the world cup. I plopped it in a glass of the wine and swirled it around a bit. The transformation was remarkable. The fruit was back, the stink had gone. Interesting, eh?


At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try the same with cling-film in a glass of wine with 'TCA'.

Decant half your glass into another, roll some cling-film up into a ball and drop it into one of the glasses, swirl it round for a few seconds and, ensuring you don't spill wine everywhere, take out the cling-film.

They're all great parlour tricks (probably handed down from a long line of unscrupulous sommeliers with affiliations to the magic circle) but you've still got to ask whether, after you've seen it 'vanish before your very eyes', the wine tastes the way it was intended to.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Good point. We know now that some sulfur compounds are important in wine aroma (for example, Doubourdieu's work on Sauvignon Blanc), and the copper may be fining these out as well.

And with your plastic trick, the plastic probably scalps a whole range of compounds of which TCA is likely to be just one.

The copper trick would be interesting, though, to confirm cases of suspected screwcap reduction.

With these tricks, it's always good to taste blind with one treated and one untreated glass just to make sure the power of suggestion isn't at work.


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