What is the 'bite' in cheap wine?

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Senior Member
Feb 21, 2010
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hi all,
What causes the harsh taste (or what I like to call a 'bite') in cheap wine? Like a cheap $3 bottle of Merlot?

Maybe the fact thyat most of them arent aged long enough, maybe they kept their wine on the skins to long trying to make up for a lack of something else.
To my understanding its the lactic acid, and the fact that it hasn't sat long enough to convert that into softer malic acid
Skiboarder...reverse the two...malo converts to lactic which is softer ( think milk)

and i would agree, that the bite is probably acidic in nature.....also likley in instances would be harsh tannin not allowed to mellow
Yep, MLF is the act of turning malic acid into lactic acid which greatly smoothes out a wine but even most cheap wines go through this.
It sounds like tannin to me. Maybe a little egg white experiment is required, or at least it would be interesting.
A drop of egg white in a bottle of wine with too much harsh tannin. The egg white will precipitate the tannin. I tried it a few months ago and it does work. Of course you have to rack it again to remove the preciptated tannin.
a commercial $3/bottle of merlot is bulk wine plain and simple, the same wine that many countries overproduce and end up turning into industrial alcohol. where volume is the vineyard's key motivator - very little attention is paid to cluster quality, ripeness, sugar levels, etc, it is about maximizing yield. stressed vines and low yields make the best grapes because everything the vine has left is going into those few grapes - not into foliage and canopy.

personally i don't understand the point of $3 commercial wine. at that pricepoint anyone can make a wine at home that will surpass it in quality.

for myself, i draw the line at about $9 for commercial wine...and that's mostly spain, portugal, argentina, south africa... where bargains can still be found offering good quality at reasonable prices.

while acidity probably plays some role - i think it is contributory. the key fault is that the juice was not good to start with, if you don't start with the best juice, you cannot make the best wine.
Steviepointer, there is no argument for Rawlus' logic, Quite simply, he is right. But I still, the tannins cause much harshness and can be smoothed with egg whites. Let us know how it works out.
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So, Richard...if you put a drop in a bottle, do you put a whole egg white in 5-6 gallons to clear tannins?
I used an eye dropper and put in about 4 drops of raw egg white per gal. I ate the rest of the egg, no waste there.
Thanks, Richard. I will try that. I prefer to use organic fining, if I can. I already limit my sulfite additives...
My wife and daughter both work at Walmart. They have had a big run lately on $3.00 wine. I've tried a few bottles of it. The biggest thing I see is that is kind of on the weak side.
Color isn't too bad, and it's got alcohol in it, but as far as taste, it's definitely lacking.
I sit back and scratch my head and wonder,if they can sell the wine at $3.00, what are they getting the bottles for, $0.15?
Maybe it's the wine that only costs 15 cents.

that would not surprise me one bit. many areas of the world are experiencing an extreme over-inventory of wine and/or juice right now. australia, portugal, spain... even france...
To my understanding its the lactic acid, and the fact that it hasn't sat long enough to convert that into softer malic acid

Yes, I do think the same as according to my knowledge it can be lactic acid that is somewhere responsible for the taste.

So it will be better if you just figure it out well to know what exactly it is.

As, what I think is it is always a great option to go for choosing right wine which is recommended and branded too as, otherwise it will not give you the right taste.


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