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Nov 12, 2009 08:34 AM

Why would this happen??

I frequently buy an inexpensive (but great) Texas red wine. Recently, 2 bottles of this wine have been fizzy and it is not a sparkling wine. The taste was off also. Any ideas on why this has happened? I am at a loss (and hate pouring out a whole bottle of wine!). Thanks. I am no wine expert so appreciate any help.

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  1. It's often a sign of fermentation in the bottle, with carbon dioxide gas being a byproduct and producing the fizz. In champagne and many other sparkling wines, this fermentation is desired and encouraged, usually by adding sugar (in one form or another) for yeast to ferment into alcohol. In still wines, in-bottle fermentation is generally considered a defect and is often caused by bacteria (converting malic acid to lactic acid, for example), with side effects including cloudiness and off aromas and flavours.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carswell

      Thank you very much for your reply. I've been buying this wine for years and never had that happen until recently. It was so unexpected to feel the fizz.

    2. I agree totally. I suggest that you return to your wine store and take the bottle with you for refund or replacement. No worthwhile wine store or market should refuse your request.

      1 Reply
      1. re: VintageTexas

        Also contact the winery directly, otherwise you are trusting your retailer to tell the distributor to tell the winery.

      2. Carswell did a good job of explaining what it is, but didn't get into the cause too much and how winemakers try to prevent it from happening.

        Having a 'spritz' in a wine is not always considered a defect, or maybe I should say not be everyone, though as Carswell said, I would probably think it would be for a TX wine. But when I find a little spritz in a wine where I wasn't expecting it, I think the winemaker tried to make it naturally and to not risk negatively impacting the flavor by fining and filtering it overmuch.

        There's been a long running debate about using fining and filtering to clean bacteria and other materials out of a wine to avoid getting the kind of fizzy wine you had, to stabilize it, or sterilize it. Some winemakers won't fine and filter because they feel it not only strips out the offending bacteria, but also some of the taste and character of a wine, leaving it somewhat sterile and squeaky clean, and, well, boring. There are plenty of wines that answer that description in the marketplace -- safe, clean and boring.

        There are some people, like me, who like traditionally styled wines, and find them more complex, even if some modern winemakers would say that this complexity is from 'flaws'.

        So if you do complain to the winemaker, he might interpret that as a reason he should do more filtering and some of what you liked about the wine previously may be missing in the future.

        I've been ignoring the "off taste" that you reported, since I'm not really sure what you mean by that, but I certainly would not be in a hurry to pour out the bottle of wine no matter what else you do. Fermentation odors are common in young wines even if they're not fizzy or cloudy, and they typically dissipate either with aging or just by having the wine be exposed to the air for a time -- sometimes as long as a day or two. If you don't like the taste today, try it in an hour, or 2 or 3, or the next day.

        6 Replies
        1. re: crw77

          "Having a 'spritz' in a wine is not always considered a defect,.... But when I find a little spritz in a wine where I wasn't expecting it, I think the winemaker tried to make it naturally and to not risk negatively impacting the flavor by fining and filtering it overmuch."

          I know of no winemaker who thinks a still bottle of wine with spritz (because of some sort of secondary fermentation, contamination, or unfinished malolactic fermentation) is not flawed. There is an odd exception for Pinot noir makers who will have wide opinions on Brett, with the newer winemakers (but not necessarily less traditional) eschewing any amount of Brett. Personally, I can tolerate very low levels, as long as it does not overpower the other aspects of the wine.

          It is not a difficult thing for a winemaker to make an unfined and unfiltered wine in a traditional manner and avoid spritz in the bottle. There might be residual CO2, but I sense the OP experienced more than a few bubbles of residual CO2.

          1. re: Cary

            Thanks for carrying on the conversation. It's been interesting to read. This fizz/spritz was very noticeable and was most unpleasant. I didn't think to return the bottles to the liquor store where they were purchased. Funny enough, I've bought this wine at several different places and both of these bottles came from the same store about a month apart. I will contact the winery and see what they say. And, if it happens again, I will let the bottle sit to see if it gets better.

            Thanks again for the conversation.

            1. re: Cary

              Cary, I think you're reading a few things into my post that weren't there. I did already say that for a TX wine, it was a flaw. I'd throw the rest of New World wines in that category too. Squeaky clean is the goal of New World wines. Do you know any traditional, old world winemakers making rustic wines? Do you like Vinho Verde?

              Although Brettanomyces is a type of yeast, you can have substantial brett in a wine and not have a spritz.

              1. re: crw77

                I think you misread Cary's post. The Brett in Pinot did not refer to spritz, but was in reference to his sentence just before about contamination.

                Spritz is a desirable stylistic component in some wines. That is not the case here. The Texas wine in question has an *undesirable* bottle fermentation. This is a winemaking error. The off-odor is the giveaway.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Yes, my post wasn't very clear. I was talking about brett as a contamination in general.

                  I am all for traditionally made wines. The less playing around the winemaker does to the grapes and resulting wine, the better. Brett, VA, and spritz can ALL be avoided (practically speaking) with traditional winemaking practices without using filtering.

                  I suppose you just happen to be okay with spritz *shrug* , just like some people are fine with lots of Brett or VA.

                  1. re: Cary

                    I think we agree. Spritz in a wine is fairly rare. Much less common than brett, for example. But in some parts of the world, like in Vinho Verde, in my experience, it's not nearly as rare.

                    Definitely any New World winemaker would think it was a flaw, and it's hard to tell without having the wine in your hand exactly what was going on with the TX wine, but smelling/tasting bad is always a flaw.

                    I'm okay with spritz, it disappears pretty quickly. So do fermentation odors, so I don't worry about them too much either. Or a little reduction, which can get cleared up with a healthy does of O2.

                    Brett and VA are there for the duration, however. A little brett is ok with me, and even a little VA can add complexity and interest to a wine. But more than a little ruins the wine. That's a big difference from a little extra CO2 in the bottle. Cheers.