I had a very unusual experience with a flawed wine today I opened for brunch. It was an Aussie stickie which are of course always notorious for lots of residual sugar that tasted very off and alcoholic, but not exactly corked or oxidized. I’ve had both corked and oxidized wine before and this tasted nothing like either of those flaws. The wine was bitter and a bit yeasty and had no sweetness at all.
So I took a one stop subway ride to the Bayview Village LCBO and spoke to a product consultant. I used a cork T-stopper and wrapped the bottle in a large Ziploc bag which then went into a standard recycled paper liquor and wine bag for transportation.
The consultant took a sniff and then took a close look and noticed that tiny bubbles were rising up continually in the wine. At first I thought it was because of the transport but then we put it on the counter and let it be perfectly still for a couple of minutes and it was still bubbling up. It was not doing this when I first opened it up. We also compared it to another unopened bottle and noticed that the color of mine was a bit off and darker when viewing them side by side.
Then I finally pieced it all together: no sweetness + bitter yeasty taste + lots of alcohol + gas bubbles rising through the wine = FERMENTATION!
I checked the bottle and there wasn’t any leftover lees in there that I could detect that might still be alive but the idea of the wine still fermenting itself does kind of explain everything.
This said, my question is… is this even possible as a flaw in a wine? It strikes me as not very possible, but it’s the only explanation I can think of. You guys and gals have way more experience, has this ever happened in a wine before to you? Or is this just my imagination running wild?
FWIW, this story does have a happy ending: I was given full credit for the flawed wine which I then used to purchase the very last two bottles of in the store of the Jose Maria Da Fonseca and Van Zeller 2003 Vintage Port.