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 What are these chemical odors in my wine?

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Let me clarify one point immediately: Chemical odors in wine are not due to to the fraudulent addition of chemicals during wine making. They, for the most part, are not desirable and are produced due to wine spoilage or mistakes in operations during winemaking and rarely are they due to natural compounds in grapes. However the latter is true for few exceptions as you will discover in the wine aroma dictionary. 

This is still a work in progress and we will add regularly new descriptors extracted from the wine aroma wheel

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  • Aroma: Kerosene
  • CategoryChemical
  • Type: Petroleum
  • Aroma definition: Aroma evoking the smell of kerosene traditionally used in oil lamps. It is close to the odor of petrol/gas or lubricant as well.
  • Wine style: Kerosene and in general petroleum-like aromas are in fact typical aromas of Riesling grapes and aging Riesling wines. Although the finished wines should not smell kerosene at high concentration, a hint of this character is desired by the Riesling wine lovers. 
  • Origin: While some people state that these kerosene/petroleum notes are defect due to the degradation of grape skin at pressing releasing the compounds at cause, others like to consider these notes as a quality for aged riesling. TDN or  1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene is the molecule found to be associated to aging wines, especially Riesling. It is created from carotenoid precursors.
  • Aroma Standard: This is a tough one. We were able to make a standard sing few drops of car lubricant in white wine. Of course it is for smelling only.

Image credit: unnibente / 123RF Stock Photo

Learn more on how to make your own wine aroma kit.

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