I'm not sure if this question is for chemistry.

I had a bottle of (cheap) wine. It had a strong taste of soot, to an extend that I suspected that in the filling process some machine oil might have gotten into it.

I discarded the bottle, but some time later, I've found the same taste, to a lesser extend, in some other wine. Now it looks like my taste buds have become more sensitive to that, as I can taste it now (depending on what, I don't know) quite frequently, mostly on a low scale.

Any idea to explain that?

  • $\begingroup$ Guess you should buy better wine now ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Feb 19, 2016 at 20:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ cooking.stackexchange.com? $\endgroup$
    – bon
    Feb 19, 2016 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron define "better wine" as opposed to "wine sold for a higher price" ;-) My "problem" is that some wines sometimes taste like soot, but a month later another bottle from the same market, same brand, same year, same purchase, does not. Looks the difference is in my taste buds. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ @bon thanks for the link, maybe if there will be no satisfying answers her I will have a look there. But I don't like to get hyperactive about this. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @bon searching there is a good idea which I can do without creating yet another account ! $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 21:18

1 Answer 1


The odour and aroma of wine consists of about 600–800 components. Many of these compounds have been described with a range of odour/flavour sensations, even in more than one category, and often have differing flavour impressions, dependent upon their concentrations in aqueous solution or in the air-space above.

The odours and flavours in wine tasting are typically divided into groups, for example: Floral, Woody, Rustic/Vegetal, Balsamic, Fruity, Animal, Empyreumatic, Chemical, Spicy, and Etherish. [Bakker, J.; Clarke, R. J. Wine flavour chemistry; 2nd ed.; Wiley-Blackwell 2012]

What you describe as “strong taste of soot” probably belongs to the Chemical group, which is associated with synthetic chemical manufacture.

Typical compounds in this group that might be responsible for the soot aroma are volatile phenols:

3-methylphenol (tarry/leathery odour)
4-methylphenol (tarry/smoky odour)
2-ethylphenol (smoky odour, phenolic flavour)
2-methoxyphenol (smoky/woody odour)

A special substance that is believed to be responsible for a strong, petrolly kerosene-like aroma developed during aging is 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene, which is formed from carotene breakdown.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer, is there a way to get those chemicals to smell and taste, preferably not to have to buy every one in a 50g charge? Something like some university or school for food-chemistry providing access to public one a year ... or something alike? $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ @GyroGearloose Suggest not to taste pure Cresol... $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Feb 20, 2016 at 0:45

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