Yesterday we had a still wine returned to us because it had bubbles. The bottle in question was a Muddy Water Pinotage. From memory we had one of their red wines under the Deliverance label returned before, this was probably about a year ago and it was for the same reason. Both customers got a full, no quibble refund, in accordance with our 100% guarantee.
Some of you may already be familiar with this. Carbon dioxide is one of the natural by-products of the fermentation process. When yeast and sugar collide alcohol is produced and CO2 is released. In most wines you will not be able to see bubbles (unless you look for them around the edge or bottom of the glass) or detect them on the palate, but it will still consist of a certain amount of CO2. This is what helps bring out those fresh, lively characteristics and crisp acidity. Flat coke always seems to taste sweeter than fizzy coke, showing that bubbles, or CO2, will even bring balance to soft drinks.
‘Spritz’ is the term used in the wine world. A slightly gassy element that can be present under both cork and screwcap. My dad and I enjoyed a dessert wine under cork from Jurançon a few months ago and the same story here. The wine was as fresh as a daisy, it just needed a little time out of bottle to settle. I would advise anyone who encounters a bottle like this to get it out into a decanter and gently slush it around to release the CO2.
The customer who returned the Muddy Water Pinotage was very grateful for the refund, and also for my explanation on why he experienced a spritz in the wine. I think he may initially have been under the impression that the wine had undergone some sort of secondary fermentation in the bottle. I tasted afterwards to confirm it was not spoiled, and sure enough, despite being open since last Friday (five days at that stage), there was no indication of any fault. Although by then the fruit was restrained, I could still taste some of those earthy, leathery flavours showing why this particular wine is such an excellent expression of variety and terroir. For me, this whole thing only reinforced Muddy Water’s excellent, boutique quality stance.
Another one bites the dust, but this time I can’t blame the function of cork, or the doubt and insecurity it places in the mind of the wine drinker. Over to the winemaker for this one.