I was looking forward to tasting this wine while in Italy. Upon opening the bottle, there was a very strong SO2 odor (actually hurt your eyes). Even after over 1 hour of decanting, the sulfur odor remained and overpowered any other aromas. What could have happened? Very disappointing because it detracted so much from the wine that I really did not enjoy a wine that I thought I would love.
Original Post
Spo, I'm well aware of what SO2 smells like. I'm trying to get to the bottom of his problem. I really don't think it was SO2 unless there was a mercaptan build up, which can be a characteristic of unfiltered wine if the problem is not dealt with before bottling. If it is mercaptan, some clean pennies could fix the problem.
Last edited by benchland
It was definitely a SO2 odor due to the irritation to my eyes. I work in the chemical industry and have experienced this while working around sulfur dioxide before. This is the first and only time that I have experienced this with wine. Mercaptans have a much more prevelant sulfur odor (like Spo1977 said) with less eye irritation.
I thought Mercapatans were found alongside sulfur but a different stench altogether. Isn't it found in decaying plants and animals and solid waste?

Sorry about the unneccesary information. Are you going to tell me how your penny trick works?
Don't want to get into a chemistry lesson but there are methyl mercaptans, di-methyl and tri-methyl mercaptans (if you have ever driven by a paper mill those are the smells you get). Most mercaptans aren't eye irritants. SO2 combines with the water in your eyes creating a weak acid which is why you have the burning sensation. I guess I was really wondering if too much SO2 or sulfite was added in the winery when the Siro Pacenti was bottled.
Last edited by longboarder
Hi Longboarder. I looked up James Suckling's reviews for the 1997 Rosso and Brunello and found that SO2 was not mentioned in either. In fact, they scored 90 and 97 points, respectively.

This leads me to believe that there was a single or small run of bottles that may have received a larger than usual dose of SO2 prior to bottling.

Lucky you for getting that bottle. I hope that your eyes and olfactory epithelium have recovered.
Thanks for the replies. This was the BdM and this was why I was so disappointed. In hindsight, after decanting it for over an hour I should have insisted that the sommelier replace the bottle. I had never had a similar experience and really wondered if my nose and palate was that much different from the "experts".
Hi Longboarder. Did you bring the fault to the sommelier's attention? Here's what I would have said, after a lot of second-guessing myself, "I'm getting a lot of SO2 in this wine and, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have blown off with decanting. Have you had this problem before? What do you think?"

And it could be that you have an exceptionally low identification threshold for SO2. The sommelier might have a higher threshold and may not sense it. Restaurants that value good customer should give you a new bottle of the same wine.
Marm, No I did not bring it to the attention of the sommelier (but should have). Anyway, I am willing to try this wine again. Several of my friends have said this must have been an isolated problem since they have tried the '97 and found it to be excellent. Thanks again and next time I will trust my nose and palate more.

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