I made an apple-honey-raspberry wine that tasted fine at bottling. Now 2 months later, it smells like pine. What chemical is that?
Kjuten — CA
The pine smell in your wine is not related to any chemical that might have been used in the winemaking process. It is a trait that you will find even in some commercially produced wines — mostly Cab. and Merlot grape wines, sometimes Rieslings. But, never in amounts as to be offensive. It is typically detected as a subtle note.
The pine smell is caused by natural compounds in the wine called terpenes. These terpenes are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, herbs. This is how they came to be in your wine. When terpenes go through the aging process they can produce all types of aroma ranging from floral to green pepper — and yes, the pine smell that is in your wine. At different points in the aging process the aroma produced can be different. This is because during the aging the terpenes are continually changing through enzymatic activity.
In your case, I feel that the pine smell in your wine is most likely coming from the terpenes in the honey you used. Depending on what type of fauna the bees select to spin their honey, different herbal-like characters can be brought to the wine through the honey. They are not that noticeable when the must is still sweet, but once the sugars have been fermented and the aging starts, these subtleties can come to the front of the wines profile.
I take it you do not care for the results. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do at this point. I would suggest letting the wine age even further and see what develops — maybe six months. It is possible that it will turn into something interesting that is more enjoyable — it’s just in a bad spot, aging wise. There are cycles that an aging wine goes through.
Beyond this there is no magical way to remove the pine smell in your wine. You can blend it down with another wine, but this method is usually futile in this type of situation. Because of the way the human senses work and the way we perceive thing, cutting the wine in half with another wine will not cut the pine smell in half. It will only cut it marginally so.
I know some of this information may not be what you wanted to hear, just realize that having a pine smell in your wine is not related to any type of chemical you normally use in a wine. It is from natural sources. My guess is that the intensity of the pine will diminish with time.
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.