Ask Wine Wizard

Overspiced Wine Situation


Joseph Whyers — Odin, Illinois asks,

I recently made a batch of banana spice wine and followed the directions accordingly. Now that it is done the clove is so overpowering that it is not good. Is there anything I can add to settle it down or should I just throw it away and start over?

There’s nothing like a wine with what I call “the elbows sticking out” to ruin one’s mood. Especially frustrating is when one has followed a recipe or kit instructions to the letter only to find that the procedure has yielded less than satisfying results. Spices and other added flavorings in home winemaking are one of the trickiest things to get right. Commercial winemakers also struggle with this issue as anyone disappointed over a lot of over-oaked Chardonnay can attest. “Flavor enhancers” (and I’ll include oak barrels in this as well as oak pieces) are so tough because once your wine has soaked in its new barrel (or with its little bag of cloves and cinnamon stick) for too long, these pesky aromatics are almost impossible to remove. Unfortunately, this is the case for your banana wine. The strong clove aroma can only be toned down by blending back with more wine. There is no fining agent or simple filtration process that will materially change the aroma. Unlike protein or tannin molecules (which can both be fined out with bentonite and
Response by Alison Crowe.