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01.27.2006

Stinky Wine and A Magic Penny

There are lots of wine faults out there -- many different ways that wine can be spoiled, off, or just plain ruined. Some of them are difficult to detect, like TCA. Most regular wine consumers have had plenty of corked wine in their lives, they just haven't known it, as it manifests in ways that are subtle and beyond the detection of casual wine drinkers, who simply may just not enjoy the wine they are drinking, rather than realizing that it is faulty.

One of the wine faults that is nearly impossible to mistake, unless the drinker has lost all sense of smell, is the tainting of wine with hydrogen sulfide. A natural byproduct of fermentation, especially fermentation which takes place in a slightly oxygen deprived environment, hydrogen sulfide is an inorganic compound that smells like rotten eggs, cabbage stew, or even week-old garbage. In a word: yucky.

It's rare that a wine suffers from this, but on occasion, it happens, and there's no mistaking it. pennies.gifI've had a few wines spoiled by this smell to greater or lesser degree. Sometimes the smell will dissipate with a little air, but often it's just too overwhelming.

What I didn't know is that there is a cure for this. Yes, thanks to a recent post on Robin Garr's Wine Lover's Page, I now know a blindingly simple, nearly unbelievable cure for turning hydrogen sulfide tainted wine into its previously untainted self.

A single copper penny.

Apparently the copper on the penny reacts with the hydrogen sulfide and binds it up into tiny inert molecules of cupric sulfide and water. It's that simple. Read the explanation here.

I can't wait to try it myself. I only hope I remember the trick when I need it next.

Comments (4)

Mike Tommasi wrote:
01.27.06 at 11:59 PM

And it leaves your penny as shiny as when it came off the mint...

BTW, in this case one says that the wine has undergone a reduction reaction. Another cure, though not quite as speedy, is to let it breathe for a long time in a carafe, perhaps aided by vigorous shaking.

cheers

Ben wrote:
01.30.06 at 6:13 PM

So maybe wine glasses should come with a small piece of copper attached to the bottom of the bowl?

That way Riedel could charge even more for something you're gonna break in your sink.

Alder wrote:
01.30.06 at 6:27 PM

Ben,

Don't give them ideas like that for free !!

Alder

greg wrote:
02.03.06 at 1:58 PM

Although the amount of copper in a penny these days is negligible. And if the commodity pricing for zinc continues, pennies will be worth far more melted down than as coins.

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