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Gary Barlettano

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What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Gary Barlettano » Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:21 pm

I've had a open bottle of Cline Cellars 2004 Cool Climate Syrah sitting out on the kitchen counter for about two days. I tried a glass tonight and, oy Moishe!!, did I ever get blown over by a rushing wind of isopropyl alcohol. Not one to be daunted, I tasted it and that same taste persisted. After about 10 minutes, the odor blew off and it tasted pretty good ... almost as good as new. Still, I'm wondering, why that rubbing alcohol smell? (BTW, I'm going to have my aching back massaged with the remainder of the bottle.)
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Bob Ross

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Re: What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Bob Ross » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:00 pm

I had a bottle that smelled and tasted like isopropyl alcohol at a picnic on a winery grounds in Virginia a few years ago. We had bought the wine at the winery, and I asked the owner about it.

He said they used isopropyl alcohol to disinfect and clean bottles before bottling, and that apparently the bottle hadn't been properly rinsed. The isopropyl alcohol blew off after a few minutes just as you described, but the fellow broke out another bottle from his library just for the insult of the thing.

I don't know how generally this cleaning technique is used, but I've sure used isopropyl alcohol to clean up red wine stains in the past.

Regards, Bob
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Re: What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Gary Barlettano » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:33 pm

Bob, that makes sense, but the only question I have is why this would happen two days after the bottle had been opened and not when the bottle was freshly opened.
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Re: What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Bob Ross » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:48 pm

Gee, I don't know. Did you open it and then cork it again before leaving it on the counter?

The only thing I could think of is that isopropyl was in suspension, and only blew off as you poured it. I rememer that we didn't notice the isopropyl at first, only after we poured it into the glasses. And, of course, we were outside in fairly hot, muggy weather, so I'm not sure the circumstances are the same.

Puzzling.

Regards, Bob
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Re: What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Gary Barlettano » Thu Jun 29, 2006 12:04 am

Bob, I put a rubber stopper in the bottle. Well, I'll try some again tomorrow and see what happens. BTW, there was no isopropyl alcohol on the stopper.
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Re: What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Bob Ross » Thu Jun 29, 2006 12:17 am

The stopper would prevent the isopropyl from blowing off, I suppose. Still a puzzlement. :-(
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Re: What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Alan A. » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:09 am

Bob Ross wrote:He said they used isopropyl alcohol to disinfect and clean bottles before bottling, and that apparently the bottle hadn't been properly rinsed. The isopropyl alcohol blew off after a few minutes just as you described, but the fellow broke out another bottle from his library just for the insult of the thing.



Hmmm....that's interesting about the use of isopropyl as a commercial winery sanitizer. Especially when there are good inexpensive food-grade, no-rinse sanitizers availible these days (Star San, idophor, potassium metabisulphite, sodium metabisulfite, One Step, etc.) Does anyone now if the use of isopropyl as a sanitizer is a common practice in commercial wineries?
Last edited by Alan A. on Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What makes a wine smell and taste like isopropyl alcohol

by Bob Ross » Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:02 pm

Good point, Alan. Janet reminded me that the winery owner told us he had changed his sanitizer and could assure us the replacement bottle wouldn't have the isopropyl aroma. And, he was right.

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