Salty flavor?

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BernardSmith

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Medaled in a recent competition but two of the judges noted that there was an underlying salty flavor in my date mead. Where is the salt likely to have originated? Could it be from the nutrient powder I added? There was nothing in the dates or honey that would have produced a salty taste.Thoughts? Thanks.
 

Rice_Guy

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* Mead produces a delicate flavor, , , date will have an identified flavor, but will not carry through fresh fruity notes. The literature lists dates with acetic, succinic, malic and tartaric organic acid, as well as phenolic acids. This should give a sharp/ not smooth flavor notes.
An interesting observation by the judges. ie , , , Wasn’t at a bad level/ out of balance, for you to place in the contest.

A guess is that the salty notes are always there at a low level. . . . . With this combination of low front forward flavors and lack of bitter notes, salty is identifiable and not masked. We in the US formulate foods with higher sodium levels than Europe, , more than the RDA suggests, and customers get used to higher sodium levels so they think it is “normal” taste.
Interesting.
 
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Johnd

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Medaled in a recent competition but two of the judges noted that there was an underlying salty flavor in my date mead. Where is the salt likely to have originated? Could it be from the nutrient powder I added? There was nothing in the dates or honey that would have produced a salty taste.Thoughts? Thanks.
Do you use Potassium or Sodium Metabisulfite ? @BernardSmith ?
 
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BernardSmith

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@Rice_Guy, I won a bronze (and one of the three suggested that the mead deserved a silver) so the saltiness was not something that was enough to send me home with my tail between my legs.. What I did use was silan (date syrup), rather than dates themselves but there was only dates in the silan: no preservatives or anything else.
@John, Yes, I had stabilized and back sweetened this but I had made only one gallon and so I didn't use a great deal of the K-meta & K-sorbate
 

jgmillr1

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The important thing is did you notice a salty note in the mead? While serving as a judge at an international wine competition last time, I noticed the wide range of other judges background. Some were professional winemakers, some were academics, and many were just knowledgeable "enthusiasts".

Every competition is run differently of course, with the more poorly run having unqualified judges or those who can't separate their personal preference for wine from the qualities they should be judging. Even the judges at this int'l competition I've been working with will short cut the scoring sheet and just go with their "gut" feel of the wine's medal value. This quickly can lead to group think at the table, even after the tasting flight is done.

Anyway, I'd suggest you go with your own pallet and that of your trusted friends to guide you, rather than chase your tail on a comment that was given less than 15sec of discussion during an afternoon of wine flights.
 

BernardSmith

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Thanks jgmillr1, That is very helpful and I will take that to heart but a large part of me says that if I have agreed to send bottles of my wines and meads to competitions for the purpose of obtaining feedback from folk who are (for the most part?) qualified judges then at least in the first instance I should treat seriously the comments of those judges. If I too quickly or readily dismiss their comments as partial , biased, unqualified, ignorant, wrong, even, then I need to decide not to send my wines to competitions. More: if I am to dismiss the judgements that I dislike does that mean I should also dismiss those judgements that heap praise on the quality of my wine or mead. Sure, I recognize that there is a great deal of subjectivity and personal preferences that creep into judging but that is the nature of the game.
 

winemanden

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Wine judges are just people, all individuals. Qualified or not, they've all got their own taste-buds. If one judge says it tastes salty then to him that's what it is. In my own wine-making, if I add banana for body, be it one two or three, one two or three gallons, my wife can taste it. No one else in the family can detect it, not even my daughter who is a food taster(Professionally) seems to pick it out. As you say though, it's not only medals you're looking for but judges opinions as well.
Neither sugar nor salt tastes particularly good by itself. Each is at its best when used to season other things. All worries are less with wine.
 

cmason1957

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Here's another thought, if your wine was tasted late in the day or perhaps even late in a given flight of wines or the judges weren't drinking/snacking between wines and flights, the judges may have been somewhat dehydrated and there may just have been a bit more salt in their saliva. I'm not saying ignore what feedback you were provided, but maybe let some folks who are knowledgeable wine tasters that you trust sample it and maybe even lead them with a do you detect any salty flavor? Am I missing something? It's kinda grasping a bit, but who knows.
 

Rice_Guy

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@jgmillr1 is making good points. Every judge is an individual, they have different skills. What did you/spouse/neighbors/friends/wine club think? Wine as a food is hedonic so the question should be what would “taster/spouse #1 or 10” do to make the sample better?

I have seen two of the ladies in the lab correctly pick gradations at 1% substitution levels of a chemical ingredient where as the other twelve on the floor did 5% gradations . I have laughed behind the mirror wall watching a panel trying to put names on test flavors and they couldn’t, , and read customer complaints with said product with 2 or 3% of customers using the correct name. The expectations bias groups of judges. Individuals do better when you fix/diagnose problems. @cmason1957 points out time of day, yes the same sample WILL be different depending on what was before. Repeating tasting helps.
@BernardSmith all food preferences are subjective (hedonic), at best they will follow a bell curve. Yes I pay attention to the judges who like the wine but give them equal weight to those who don’t like the wine. After all we know more about what happened. (ex problem above was a supplier started using bleach to eliminate micro, most customers couldn’t name the chemical, some liked the “bold” flavor)

One of the best learning methods I have found was speed wine-ing (like speed dating with a bottle) but again as in the lab, 3 club members had flavor insight that rang true, the rest of the hour felt superficial. (doing a mall intercept taste panel also is good) , , , , ie take the judge with a grain of figurative salt. What a dozen friends think matters more. averages!

There are labs like WoodsonTennant or Siliker that test sodium if you want a ppm number. However, , I would get more tasting data first.
 
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bshef

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I learned my lesson with beer judges. All were amateur beer club members who either loved the beer or said it was infected. Infected was apparently all they could think of to say when it was not their favorite style. Wrong characteristics for the style was another catch-all. I metaled a few times but never got any useful feedback so I gave up competition and just brew for self, family and friend's tastes.

Take the advice above. Scan the score sheets if you want. Don't stress; this was one gallon? As a test why not try a gallon of the silan (date syrup) only. Don't use the nutrient additive and ditch the K-meta & K-sorbate. Keep it under air lock for as long as you aged the mead or bottle carefully and see what you get.
 

sour_grapes

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Wine as a food is hedonic so the question should be what would “taster/spouse #1 or 10” do to make the sample better?
Spouse #10?? I cannot tell if this means you are successful or unsuccessful at mating: If this number is simultaneous, you are doing well, but if it's sequential, you are doing something wrong! :)
 

BernardSmith

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All great points . Thank you. I am certainly not losing any sleep over this. Heck! I won a bronze. But it piqued my curiosity. And certainly judges are human and some judges, qualified or not, are no more useful than our two cats at judging foods they dislike... but no one twisted my arm and forced me to "ask" those judges for their opinions and in the context of competitions the opinions of judges ought to be (able to be ) treated very seriously... That said, bshef's suggestion that I simply make a gallon of date wine from the date syrup , the silan , is a really good idea... and I like really good ideas. :)
 

stickman

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@BernardSmith I have never used date syrup, but looking at the nutritional information online, I see potassium content of 167mg/table spoon, or roughly 18ml; this translates to a fairly high potassium content on a per liter basis, I get roughly 9000mg/L, this will be diluted to some extent depending on your starting gravity. You may want to check the potassium content of the particular syrup you used. According to data I found from Purdue University, exceeding 400mg/L potassium may cause the wine to taste salty. Purdue was referencing deacidifying wine using potassium bicarbonate, but the data may still apply. They said: "Deacidifying a wine with 1,000 mg/L KHCO3 will add 386 mg/L of potassium. Even higher doses would make the wine taste salty."
 
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