What Does It Mean if Your Wine Has a Sulfur Smell?

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    Sulfur on Grapes

    • One possible cause of the sulfur smell in wine is the actual grapes that were used to produce the beverage. If the grapes were treated with a sulfur-based mildew or fungus spray close to the harvest, that could cause the wine to smell, according to "Techniques in Home Winemaking." This problem is more common in red wines because the juice of the grapes is usually in contact with the grape skins longer when red wine is being created; however, it can happen to white wines as well.


    • Yeast used during the wine-making process can cause wine to have a sulfur smell. The wine helps the grape juice ferment and turn into alcohol, but if it over ferments, it can cause a build up of gas, which will release the rotten egg smell. The yeast used can also create a sulfur smell if it is deprived of the nutrients it needs for the fermenting process. The proper nutrients might not be found in the grape juice if the grapes were harvested too soon or are over ripe.

    Sulfer in Barrels

    • Oak barrels are most commonly used to allow wine to ferment, or age. The wood in the barrels can add flavor to the wine, but it can also cause the wine to have a sulfur smell. There can be sulfur deposits in the wood, which are normal, but if the wine remains in contact with those deposits for an extended period of time, it can give the wine a sulfur smell. Burning pieces of sulfur can also be used to clean oak barrels, and if that cleaning method is used and not properly removed from the barrel, the smell can also attach itself to the wine.

    Removing the Smell

    • Once the smell of sulfur has attached itself to the wine, there are not many ways to remove it. The best chance you have of getting rid of the smell is by aerating the wine. To do this, pour the wine from one bottle or decanter to another for several minutes. Place the cork or top on the container after pouring between the two bottles. Allow the wine to sit for at least an hour. If the smell remains, attempt to pour the wine between two bottles again and allow it to sit, covered, for at least an hour. If this does not remove the smell, you can either drink the wine with the smell or throw away the wine.

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