Why does wine sometimes taste like vinegar?

Oxidized wine is a phrase that we all hear when the taste isn’t what we expect from a bottle, or when we find it unpleasant on the palate.  The reason for this, is that when wine comes into contact with air it sets of a set of chemical reactions which we refer to as oxidization. 

But, oxidization is actually part of the winemaking process, used to give some wines particular characteristics or purposely start the ageing process.  However, when oxidation is not intentionally part of the winemaking process and wine is exposed to oxygen, changes start to occur.  The once vivid color becomes more orange with a brown hue and on the nose they lose their fruity aromas, replacing them with rancid walnut hints. On the palate they are bitter, dry and sometimes might taste like vinegar. 

What causes wine to oxidize?

Oxidization of wine, can be caused by a few things. Purposefully, the winery can store wine in oak barrels to begin the oxidative aging process.  This allows a small amount of oxygen to enter through the wood allowing the product to evolve. This phase of oxidative aging is followed by the reductive phase in a bottle. An example of this type of wine is Madeira.

Once bottled, a faulty closure or seal will allow too much air into the bottle and diminish the products freshness to the point it is spoiled. Temperature and humidity conditions during transportation and storage can also attack a products quality if not managed properly (See how here).  Prevention is key!

Other consumables such as olive oil and water also suffer if exposed to temperature, light and oxygen prior to consumption too.  It is for this same reason that we manufacture flexitanks with a tri-laminate of polyethylene and coated polyester as part of our range; and they are the leading bulk liquid flexitank in the market for consumables such as wine and olive oil. 

What does the Tri-laminate do?

The tri-laminate acts as a protective shield to the product it surrounds, fending off common gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide.  Without this barrier, gases like oxygen can permeate through the plastic and begin that chemical reaction of oxidization.

Putting the science to work for you the shipper

By shipping in bulk using a flexitank you’re not only safeguarding your liquid product against oxygen ingress, you’re also delaying the start of its shelf life, since the flexitank is a sealed container, almost vacuum like.  By contrast to bottle shipping, no air touches the product until bottling at destination and there is no risk of oxidization from closure or seal failure. Moreover, wine in bulk has a greater thermal inertia than wine in a bottle, meaning it is less susceptible to temperature changes.


For more information on shipping you products using bulk liquid flexitanks, check out our flexitank web page or speak to your local Hillebrand office.

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