Reductive aromas in wine refer to a set of characteristics that emerge during winemaking and aging processes when the wine comes into contact with limited oxygen. This reduction, often intentional, contrasts with oxidation, which occurs when wine is exposed to excessive oxygen. Reductive aromas are generally characterized by a range of sulfurous and earthy notes.
Common reductive aromas include hints of struck match, flint, gunflint, or even a slight whiff of rotten eggs. These aromas are a result of sulfur compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans, or disulfides, that can be produced during fermentation or aging in an oxygen-deprived environment. While some degree of reduction can contribute to complexity and age-worthiness in certain wines, excessive reductive notes can be considered a flaw.
Winemakers carefully manage the balance between reduction and oxidation to craft wines with desirable aromas and flavors. It is essential to strike a harmonious equilibrium to ensure that reductive characters enhance rather than detract from the overall wine profile. As a sommelier, understanding and articulating these nuances can be valuable when guiding patrons through their wine selections.
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