Ask Wine Wizard

Using Essential Oils In Wine


Dennis Green — Sheridan, Wyoming asks,

Has anyone tried making wine using essential oils as flavor or aroma highlights? How would this work and if it could be done, at what point would you add the oil of choice?

You can certainly experiment with essential oils in your winemaking if you remember the old adage that “oil and water don’t mix.” Essential oils are the natural distilled volatile aroma compounds from fruit, leaves, and flowers, and are used in the perfume and cosmetics industries, among others. Essential oils are easy to find online or in health food stores and are relatively inexpensive, costing between $10-$15 for a small 1 oz. (30 mL) bottle. The most common essential oils include lavender, peppermint, and rosemary, but a huge host of oils is available online. Why would anyone want to use essential oils in winemaking? As you suggest, it might be interesting to add some additional flavor and aroma highlights to your wines. However, be advised that since the molecular weight of most essential oils are so low, what’ll happen is the oils will actually “sit on top” of your wines, and not truly absorb or mix into solution. It’ll be as though you’ll have an actual oil slick on top of your carboy or wine bottle. Open a bottle of wine
Response by Alison Crowe.