Could someone please say how to decipher VA in a wine while blind tasting. Does it only exist in tannic reds or those that had good oak treatment/possible warm climate viticulture.
Deb, VA is combination of 2 primary compounds, Acetic acid (essentially vinegar) and ethyl acetate (nailpolish remover aroma) . These compounds form when OXygen is exposed to acetic acid bacteria or when I fermented sugars are exposed to a lactobacillus Infection. The oxidative environment that the acetic acid bacteria is exposed to most of the time is generally large older casks ( think Nebbiolo from NW Italy.). The unfermemted sugars scenario I find happens in new world wines grown in warm climates (think NAPA Cabernet, Zinfandel.)
In the case of blind tasting you would call VA, as “VA” you find these VA in wines such as Nebbiolo, high abv new world wines, Sangiovese that has been aged in large older bottle or casks.
I hope this helps, anyone with stronger knowlwedge please jump in.
Thanks Blake, for the message.
Volatile acidity is typically caused by bacteria in the wine producing acetic acid. A higher pH (lower acid) wine is more susceptible to VA. Topping barrels with clean wine (with clean equipment) is an important preventative measure. Proper SO2 usage and lower temperatures will also help keep the microbes at bay.
The smell of vinegar, pickle juice, nail polish remover, or glue are typical descriptors. Some wines are classic for a degree of VA (Barolo, Amarone, Brunello), but people's threshold for how much is appropriate will range. Some famous critics love a bit of VA. Personally, I can accept a little bit in a Barolo, but I have no tolerance for it in Champagne (common in oxidative styles) or Pinot Noir.
Thank you MS Geoff for this message.
In my experience, wines with higher alcohol + tannins produce this aroma. Cdp, nebbiolo, brunello, napa cab. I don't personally get nail polish like everyone else.... My markers for VA is usually surgical gloves or burnt plastic. I would recommend doing a flight with a cdp, nebbiolo, cab, and mix things up maybe something that doesn' have VA to compare side by side. + what ever Geoff says. Lol
Less important than how it smells—in a very aromatic wine it's hard to smell—is how it feels. VA is caustic when smelled; it burns your nose like vinegar. It's never going to be as intense as vinegar is a wine, but it has a perceivable tingle. The only thing you could mistake for is the burn of alcohol, but they feel different. A very easy way to learn the difference is to water down vinegar and a neutral spirit and compare how they feel next to each other.
Hi Deb. I usually identify it by that balsamic smell and slight sharpness of other tertiary aromas. Found it in traditional style Riojas as well, specially Gran Reservas. Normally many of these wines show a bit of brett too I think, or the horsy aromas get amplified at least. I love Murrieta Ygay, I think plenty of VA there, but in a good way
Thank you Alex.
Thank you Jonah.
Thank you Kamal.