Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Question

A reader asks:

Why do some wines make my nose stuffy? We cracked a gift bottle tonight and my friend quit drinking pretty quick, said her nose was stopped up and in fact I could hear it. Then, my own sinuses went haywire. So I said the conventional, it's the sulfites. And she said, all wines have sulfites. So what, why, or when is it that some wines do that? And, if one does, aside from not buying it again, what can we do to avoid one that causes that? Is there anything in the label to tip you off, aside from price? does the varietal affect sinuses? The wine in question was an Aussie 2010 pinot noir, granted, somewhat of a budget wine.

This is a perennial question. I decided - before getting an informed opinion - to put it to Nose, my experienced, anonymous source in NoCal who has occasionally useful, amusing things to say about most things vinous. Here’s his predictably over-the-top response:

Never buy wine with A KANGAROO ON THE LABEL! (Or a fish, a knight, a saint, a pickup, or somebody’s mother.) And stop drinking crap! Generally the worse shape fruit is in, the more sulfur is used, but the variables in winemaking are almost infinite so there’s no real way to tell in advance. Just pay a little more and drink a little less and life will be dandy.

Reader's response:

I don't disagree with your expert but he didn't fully address the question. It was a gift, & from NZ so no kangaroo. Label in fact was reasonably classy, also retails for about $12 hereabouts. And while this one was plonk, $12 can buy a drinkable bottle, sometimes. So his bottom line is don't buy the bottom line? Easy for a vintner to say.

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