Demi-John

(c) 2000
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Home Winemaking
Wine Tastes & Off-flavours
  • Wine tastes too dry.
    Whenever a wine is too dry, it is not spoilt and may need no adjustment. All new wines should be left for at least two weeks to mellow before finally assessing them. Should you prefer your wine a little on the sweeter side, the simplest way would be to add a saccharine based wine sweetener. This is preferred to adding sugar as it does not trigger a second fermentation.
  • Wine tastes too sweet.
    With a wine intended to be dry being too sweet, this could be due to a stuck fermentation (dealt with previously).
    It is advisable to blend an “over-sweet” wine with a drier wine to be made especially for this purpose.
  • Smell whilst fermenting.
    Sometimes there is a slight odour whilst fermenting. It is not unusual and will disappear as the process carries on.
  • Musty smell (Oxidised taste).
    When a wine tastes musty and loses vitality it has become oxidised. Always store jars full and never leave a large airspace. Use Ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
    In severe cases white wines will darken probably caused by long storage in contact with air and the failure to add Campden tablets or repeated syphoning to clear the wine.
  • Vinegar taste.
    Do not confuse vinegary with sour. The wine will have a vinegar aroma reminiscent to a fish and chip shop.
    Cause: Infection by bacteria which produces acetic acid. The wine cannot be saved therefore discard the wine. Thoroughly clean and sterilise all glass and plastic equipment with a Sterilising Solution before using again. Corks which have been in contact with vinegary wine cannot be effectively sterilised and must be thrown away.
  • Wine turns sour.
    Lactic acid bacteria can become established in a wine if Campden Tablets are not added. The wine becomes sour as time passes and it may develop an off-flavour reminiscent to yeast autolysis. Add 2 Campden tablets per gallon immediately to prevent further spoilage. If the wine has no off-flavour other than increased acidity, it can be sweetened to taste, covered under the heading “Wine tastes too dry” or blended or drunk as it is. Wines affected by off-flavour may be re-fermented by Refermentation Method 2.
    If badly affected they should be thrown away.
  • Wine tastes thin or weak.
    This generally applies to a country wine being made with too little fruit. Actually thin wines like this are deceiving for they are just as alcoholic as full bodied wines. Try adding a little glycerol as this will thicken (add viscosity) without having any adverse effects.
  • Wine lacks bouquet.
    If the wine has a pleasant and likeable taste, this can soon be put right.
    Add a few drops of lactic acid to bring out the characteristic smell of wine.
  • Wine tastes too acidic.
    Try adding a level teaspoon of precipitated chalk to the demijohn and stir well. This will remove some of the acid. It will however produce a sediment that will need further racking.
  • Wine tastes flat.
    With non grape wines, this can be caused by a lack of tannin or acid. Add a quarter teaspoon of wine tannin, mix thoroughly and taste. If it still appears flat, try adding half a teaspoonful of tartaric acid and again mix thoroughly. This should improve the wine and give more bite.