glossary

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Mercaptans: Also known chemically as thiols, mercaptans are organosulfur compounds that emit unpleasant, skunky aromas of rubber, sulfur or garlic. Mercaptans are often encountered in wines suffering from reduction (in which case exposure to oxygen may alleviate the flaw) as well as in very old white wines.

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Reduced: Commonly used to describe a wine that has not been exposed to air and has developed stinky aromas due to reductive chemical reactions (as opposed to oxidation). Reduced notes in a wine generally result from the presence of volatile sulfur compounds, or mercaptans; these notes include rotten eggs, rubber, struck matches, sewage and even skunk. These off aromas may dissipate after exposure to air through decanting or swirling the wine in the glass.

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