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Where do "off flavors" come from.

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HankRearden

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Having a problem with my wine having some butyric acid.
I say butyric acid because it has that "baby vomit" odor that is attributed to butyric acid - though I'm no expert.

Previously it was with Welch's, now with a kit.

As I understand, some bacteria could be causing this. I do sanitize well, but I'm on a community well system so now I'm guessing that the water used to reconstitute concentrates may be the culprit.

Any clues?
would it be worth purchasing distilled water for my next kit?
 

BernardSmith

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Distilled water is not a preferred source of water. You might want to use spring water but the butyric may be coming from the fruit itself or (and about this I am not certain) it may be a precursor of vinegar... so it is possible that you have introduced oxygen into the wine?
 

stickman

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This is a new one on me, you are the first I have heard of having this problem. I had to do some research and found that Clostridium butyricum strains are found in soils, fresh water and marine sediments, wood, animal and human feces, clinical specimens, soured milk, and cheeses (Cato et al., 1986; Wiegel et al., 2006).

Additional passage in the following document.

The influence of microorganisms in winemaking
by T. Hühn1, W.-R. Sponholz2 and D. Pulver3
1 Fachgebiet Oenologie, Hochschule Wädenswil/Switzerland, Zürcher
Fachhochschule; 2 Fachgebiet Mikrobiologie und Biochemie, Forschungsanstalt
Geisenheim/Germany; 3 Fachgruppe Getränkemikrobiologie,
Forschungsanstalt Wädenswil/Switzerland

Butyric acid taint

Infection of wines with Clostridium butyricum are infrequent. These organisms can produce a certain rancid taint via the synthesis of small amounts of butyric acid. Clostridia are obligate anaerobic spore producing organisms which can only develop in wines with a high pH (> 4). Such taints occur therefore in highly deacidified musts or in musts with a naturally low acidity, such as apple and pear musts. Clostridia ferment the must sugar, producing n-butyric acid, acetic acid, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Dependent on the strain, n-butanol and acetone (Clostridium butyricum) or n-butanol and 2-propanol (Clostridium butylicum) can be formed. Clostridium butyricum produces mainly butyric acid and acetic acid and only small quantities of alcohols.

Hopefully some of this information can help, I would use bottled water, and be sure the must pH is in the proper range, at least below 3.8 for a red, which it should be if it is a kit.
 

Arne

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Most of the off smells I have had have to do with lack of nutrient. Did you add the nutrient to the wine when you started it? I usually add half of it at the beginning of the ferment and the other half when the s.g. gets down to 1.050 or 1.060 or so. The smell ususally comes from the yeast being stressed. Keeping it strong keeps the odors away, at least for me. Arne.
 

Johnd

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Like @stickman I had to do some research, but it appears that butyric acid is the result of bacterial work, so the same rules of sanitation apply to prevent any bacterial infection. Don't use your well water, use bottled water, not distilled as mentioned earlier. Keep proper so2 levels, keep properly topped up to limit the oxygen exposure which the bacteria need to thrive, as soon as practical, get the wine into lower storage temps, maintain pH's in the proper range.

Since you've potentially had this in two different wines, it may have taken a foothold in your production or storage area, consider a comprehensive cleaning and sanitizing of those areas. I hope you can get it under control, baby vomit doesn't sound like a good taste in wine...............
 

ceeaton

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I do sanitize well, but I'm on a community well system so now I'm guessing that the water used to reconstitute concentrates may be the culprit.

Any clues?
would it be worth purchasing distilled water for my next kit?
I've been a beer maker much longer than a wine maker, and like you I'm on community water, and at times it has a black looking algae (that forms in the pipes). I always had pre-boiled and cooled my water before using it on a batch of beer and have been doing that for my wine making too. If you have a big pot with a lid you can boil your water in, and then cover and let it cool, that might be an alternative to buying water.
 

HankRearden

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Most of the off smells I have had have to do with lack of nutrient. Did you add the nutrient to the wine when you started it? I usually add half of it at the beginning of the ferment and the other half when the s.g. gets down to 1.050 or 1.060 or so. The smell ususally comes from the yeast being stressed. Keeping it strong keeps the odors away, at least for me. Arne.
In this case I didn't use a nutrient because the kit didn't call for it.
I'm also trying to avoid additives so I omitted the polysorbate and sulfides.
However those were called for at 14 days and I could taste it there already at that time.

I could be wrong on the butyric acid, but I know what that is and have smelled it before (maybe in chem class, I forget) - though many of these acids smell similar.

But yeah. Will try spring water and try to sanitize better next time.

Thanks all
 

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