Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Recently I purchased a half-case of 2009 Viognier from a well-known California Central Coast producer. I’ve opened three bottles, and all of them have been spritzy. I understand this is a common problem with pink wines if you wait too long to drink them, but this is a white wine that should be keepable for several years. What causes this problem in white wines?
—Gerry A., via the Internet
Spritz in a wine doesn’t have to do with a wine’s color. Either it was intentionally put there, or something happened to the wine after it was bottled. A winemaker could have purposely left behind or even added some additional carbon dioxide before bottling for style’s sake—a little CO2 will make a dull wine seem brighter, or it could be simply the style in which a wine is enjoyed (I expect a slight effervescence when I order a Vinho Verde, for example).
Or it could have been a mistake, an unintentional secondary fermentation that occurred in the bottle. The recent trend for unfined and unfiltered bottles, reduced sulfite additions, high pH levels in a wine ... these can contribute to something brewing in your bottle. If that’s the case, it’s considered a flaw; it would usually be accompanied by a distinct swampy note, and the wine might be cloudy or have a lot of sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
If you encounter a wine with some spritz in it and you’re not enjoying it, you can try to decant the wine or just give it a lot of air (big glass, lots of swirling) to see if those notes “blow off.” It will also help if a cold bottle of wine warms up, giving the CO2 a chance to dissolve.