Trying to identify an annoying aroma and taste

airlock1The barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon I plan to craft in the fall will not be my first attempt at winemaking. At home I made a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Wine Expert wine kit, a dry mead from scratch, and a dessert Riesling from a Wine Expert wine kit. My first attempt at winemaking was an educational and intimidating process. Receiving the kit as a Christmas present, it took seven months to open it and begin the process. I read directions several times before doing anything and took what seemed forever trying to read the hydrometer. It was great to see a bubbling air lock and smell the aroma of fermentation in the house. Racking was nerve racking, but I did get the hang of it. Finally bottling was a pain. It took four people and we could have used one more person to help manipulate the small hand held corker. My next Christmas present was a floor bottle corker. Wow! That was the perfect gift and made corking the second batch of wine very easy.

Of course I’ve tasted my Cab over the past 11 months. However there is an aroma and taste that I do not like. I’ve talked to winemakers about it but haven’t been able to identify what I perceive as an off taste. Theories do exist. My first theory was the off taste and aroma was due to the oak dust that was added to the juice at the beginning of the process. However this theory was shot down when I noticed the same odor and taste on the dessert Riesling. The Riesling had no oak dust added to it. Next I tried to match the aroma with the aromas in a wine fault kit; none seemed to match. I was surprised to observe that same aroma and taste in wines produced at a Wisconsin winery that makes all their wines from kits.

It should be pointed out that while I can perceive something that I don’t like, others who have tasted my wine like it and do not perceive the aroma or taste it, or they don’t mind it. I find it annoying. It doesn’t bother me on the dessert Riesling, though perhaps the sugar content is covering it up. Recently I met with Chris Pearmund, co-founder of Vint Hill Craft Winery. He sampled my wine and noticed the aroma. He mentioned geraniums. After opening another bottle, I went and smelled the geraniums around the house. There was a similar aroma. In my research, I learned that a possible contributor to this geranium smell was the sorbate added to the wines for the stabilizing and clearing stage. Many winemakers do not use sorbate, but wine kits often do. Making wine is an ongoing learning experience. With the guidance of expert winemakers at Vint Hill Craft Winery, hopefully the barrel of Cab will turn out great.

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