Wine Word of the Week: Mercaptans

By Kori ~ October 30th, 2010.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is mercaptans.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Mercaptans, or thiol compounds, are a group of usually potent and often foul-smelling chemical compounds formed by yeast reacting with sulfur in the lees after the primary alcoholic fermentation. If not removed from the new wine (which can usually be achieved by simple aeration, by prompt racking, for example, or by the addition of a small amount of copper sulfate), less volatile and even more unpleasant compounds tend to be formed.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Mercaptans is a wine fault characterized by a very unpleasant odor, sometimes described as burnt match, rotten cabbage, garlic, or onion-like.

Filed under: Wine Word of the Week

Reader's Comments

  1. Jenny | November 1st, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Love these bits of wisdom

  2. Kori | November 1st, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks so much for your kind words. Cheers!

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