This Wine has a Bouquet of… Bubblegum!
I just stumbled across a really interesting thread on Quora about wines that taste and smell like bubblegum. Some people’s palates are so sensitive they actually pick up the most interesting tastes and aromas in wines – Dr. Pepper (2009 Angel Vine Zinfandel Columbia Valley), Red Vines (2007 DiStefano Winery “Sogno” Cabernet Franc) and bubblegum are just a few. I’ve never caught a whiff or taste of bubblegum in my wine, but I certainly wanted to know more about whether this really is an accurate descriptor for some wines. And if so, is it a good quality?
According to Lucas Meeker, co-winemaker at Meeker Vineyard, yes, bubblegum is a “totally accurate descriptor for lots of wines”
Meeker’s daughter, Kelly, added that, most often, bubblegum flavors are “associated with whole berry or carbonic fermentation – in which the grape berry is not fully crushed and anaerobic fermentation occurs within the grape itself. This is sometimes employed deliberately in rose and Beaujolais wines – and accidentally in others. From a winemaking perspective, you can direct carbonic fermentation by setting a larger width between the rollers in the crusher (if you’re using larger-scale winemaking equipment).”
Still curious, I decided to educate myself more this odd wine aroma. Wine writer Tom Cannavan, who maintains the educational site Wine-Pages (as well as similar sites for beer and whiskey), has a section devoted to aromas and flavors in wine. Here is his take on bubblegum in wine (spoiler: it’s not good):
“More banal than peardrops, this amylic aroma is the product of carbonic maceration in red wines or too cool fermentation in whites. Should never be allowed in a fine wine and a boring character in even the cheapest plonk.”
The Esson Estate Winery Coop maintains a number of pages about winemaking. After primary fermentation, winemakers can add chemicals to help stabilize the wine and prevent it from re-fermenting. One of the chemicals sometimes used is potassium sorbate (usually in sweet or sparkling wines). Often referred to as wine stabilizer, it produces sorbic acid and inhibits molds and yeasts. However, according to the coop, “one of the negative effects Potassium sorbate can have on wine is that if too much of it is added it can give the wine a bubblegum or beewax aroma which some people may find offensive.”
Wine blogger Clinton Stark summed up his thoughts, “If someone asked me for the correct term for a wine that tastes like bubblegum, I’d say this: Un-drinkable. But, alas, there are far, far more clever wits out there.”
Seems there’s a bias out there about bubblegum aroma in wines. Despite that, I have yet to come across any tasting notes from wine drinkers on social sites like LetsPour, Bottlenotes or CellarTracker that mention bubblegum notes in a bad way. Here’s a list of wines I found with bubblegum aroma mentioned somewhere in the tasting notes. Try them yourself and see if you give bubblegum a thumbs up or not.2011 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau Frank Cornelissen Etna Susucaru 3 2011 Maison Albert Bichot Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2007 R Wines Grenache Chateau Chateau Greek Columns 2009 Clos-du-Calvaire Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 Tenuta Valleselle Verona Veneto IGT 2010 Sandhi Wines Chardonnay 2009 Riecine Chianti Classico 2011 Frisk Riesling Prickly 2009 Salvano Fosco 2010Domaine Pardon 2009 Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone, Shiraz 2008 Finca Lasierpe Rosado Garnacha, Navarra
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