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JOHN R9ZENTALS has a timely look at what sulphides are and what to do if you encounter them.

July 14, 2020 Beverage No Comments

I’ve received for review recently a couple of otherwise excellent wines that were I believe marred by an excessive amount of sulphide.

So, what is sulphide or, to use the increasingly popular Americanism, sulfide?

In its simplest, or free, form it is hydrogen sulphide, the rather unpleasant-smelling gas so many of us were introduced to in school science experiments.

Hydrogen sulphide can be a result of yeast metabolism and be gotten rid of by simple aeration or fining with copper sulphate (or, to use the increasingly popular Americanism, sulfate) followed by filtration or racking.

Care should be taken to rigorously undertake fining trials. Winemakers please note.

The trouble with free hydrogen sulphide is that it can rapidly change to the more troublesome bound sulphide typified by the burnt rubber smells of mercaptan.

These compounds rarely respond to fining with copper sulphate.

That’s why I normally recommend affected wines be treated by vigorous decanting — a treatment not sure to always work.


Angullong 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot ($22): This is a good, solid red with plenty of merlot softness filling the notorious mid-palate cabernet hole. Leafy flavours lead to well structured tannins. All three red reviewed today would sit nicely with lamb chops, mashed potato and gravy.

Angullong 2016 Merlot ($22): Regular readers of this column will know that I often don’t like straight merlots from our larger producers because they have been sweetened for the American market. Well, you wouldn’t count Angullong as large in this sense and you certainly wouldn’t count this red as having been sweetened up. It may, however, be one of the wines suffering from excess sulphides and I’d recommend vigorous decanting prior to consumption.


Angullong 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($22): Over the past few years Angullong family member Ben Crossing has overseen the devopment of a very handy house red in this wine which shows loads of blackberry-type flavours backed by firm tannin. Complexity and texture are the real names of the game here in a wine which repay at least short-term cellaring.

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