The mysterious effect on wine
Peanut, sausage skin or speculoos... The "mouse taste" has many names but remains a mystery to winemakers.
"It's more of a texture, with a peanutty greasiness. And the smell of mouse hair, or even mouse piss." Mouse taste is not easy to describe. Not least because it's an olfactory defect that's virtually undetectable to the nose. It can be detected in the mouth, but also on the finger: "If you dip your finger in a glass, shake it, and when it dries there's mouse, you'll smell it". White or red, all wines can be affected, whatever their region of origin. But it's natural wines that are most at risk
SMOOTH TASTE IS NOT NEW There's
nothing new about the phenomenon: "It's a defect that's been recorded in the books, but we thought it had disappeared," says Gilles de Revel. "Today, it's a small problem that affects very few bottles. But over the past year, we've been asked more and more questions. This is proof that something is going on." The molecules responsible for the mouse-like taste are well known: they are lactobacilli, "usually rather favorable. But it's also linked to the development of bretts in the presence of sugar , i.e. during fermentation." Obviously, there's no rodent involved in the case. There are no real results yet, but it would seem that the longer the vinification, the more the winemaker would be confronted with this problem.
SIX MONTHS LATER, THE WINE MAY BE MAGNIFICENT
The special thing about mousey taste is that it's a
"temporary defect". It can appear as soon as the bottle is opened or several hours later, before disappearing just as mysteriously. It' s as if the wine is "digesting" it, but we don't yet know why.
In any case, it's important not to think that if one bottle is affected, the whole vintage has to be thrown away. "Six months later, it can still be magnificent,
To complicate matters further, not everyone is equal when it comes to the taste of mouse. Many hate it, but some love it. And a few are not sensitive. "When wines are complex, it may not be a problem," says Pierre Sanchez, from Duo Œnologie in Alsace, who works on mouse taste. "But if that's all you smell, it's disgusting.
Once the mouse is there, for both winemaker and taster, there's only one solution: wait for it to go away. No technical, chemical or natural solution has yet proved its worth.
So, if need be, "we wait before selling the wine", SULFUR, A SENSITIVE SUBJECT
"Obviously, all you'd have to do is add 6 grams of sulphur and the problem would be solved",
who will do nothing about it. "I don't see the point of adding sulfur", "You no longer have any defects, but you don't have any quality either ."
are "an environment where you're groping around, rediscovering things by working without a net." Sulfur "is a
sensitive subject", "Without corrective oenology, it's harder to make wine", "You have to find the right balance. The winemaker's experience will make the difference. Moreover, the mouse is becoming better and better mastered. But remains a real scourge, which will be found more and more in wines, rather like tca.