Why do some of my wines turn out with a woody smell or taste?
Name: Dina T.
The obvious reason your homemade wines would have a woody taste and woody smell is because it is either being aged in wood, or wood was added during the making of the wine, for example, our French Oak Chips. If you are not doing either of these, then we have to start looking at the not so obvious.
Here are three things to look out for to make sure your homemade wine does not end up with a woody taste or smell:
- Over Processing the Fruit: When I say over process I am referring to doing things like chopping up the fruit in a blender or food processor of sorts, or even by over chopping them by hand. When thing like these are done too much tannin and other compounds are released from the fruit, giving the homemade wine a dry, toothpick to earthy aftertaste. The fruit only needs to be very coarsely chopped or the skins bursted. Anything more than this is overkill.
- Not De-stemming the Fruit Completely: The fruit should also be cleared of stems and remnant foliage. For example, in the case of strawberries, core the tops; in the case of grapes, remove away all the stems, etc. These parts have high amounts of tannin that can contribute to the woody flavor and woody smell you are perceiving in your homemade wine.
- Leaving the Fruit in the Fermentation too Long: The longer the fruit is left in the fermentation, the more the fruit is broken down by the fermentation. In a sense, this is similar to over processing the fruit. More tannin is being allowed to release into the wine with the additional time in the fermenter. The optimal amount of time can vary from one fruit to the next, but the general consensus would b about 5 days. If you want your wine to have a lighter body and be drinkable sooner, then 3 days. If you are looking for a more robust, fuller wine that will take a year or two to age out, then 7 days. But, never longer than this.
I would not dump any of your homemade wines out that have a woody wine taste or woody smell. It is very possible that these wines will improve remarkably with aging. I would suggest giving them some time before making any such decision.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.