30 Second Wine Advisor: Rubber tire 30 Second Wine Advisor: Rubber tire

Today's Sponsor

 The California Wine Club
$61 Mother's Day Gift Set, Free!
www.cawineclub.com

In This Issue

 Rubber tire
That earthy, dark scent of black rubber is an intriguing aroma, but it's not something I would really care to find in my wine.
 The California Wine Club
$61 Mother's Day Gift Set, Free!
 This week on WineLoversPage.com
Our columnists take a look at "travel shock" and a broad-ranging tasting of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. On our forums, a conversation about matching vegetarian dishes and wine, and a poll on the current incidence of cork-tainted wine.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

 Wine Video Watch
 Learn about our RSS Feed

Rubber tire

Park your car in the sun on a warm Spring day, and, after it's been there for a while - assuming you're not worried that your neighbors will think you've lost your mind - get down on your hands and knees and take a good, long sniff at one of the tires.

Got that smell? That earthy, dark scent of rubber (okay, it's synthetic, but never mind that) with an overlay of sulfur? It's an intriguing aroma, not entirely unpleasant. But it's not something I would really care to find in my wine.

In fact, however, it happens from time to time, most recently just the other night when a persistent, dominating rubbery aroma pretty much spoiled my enjoyment of a relatively affordable Spanish red wine that I had been anticipating. In contrast with the sort-of-reminds-me nature of many offbeat wine descriptors like "petrol" and "barnyard" that evoke, rather than precisely resembling the real thing, this was a true black-rubber aroma as clear and true as you'd get from sticking your nose into an old black-rubber boot.

What's going on here?

In their useful if somewhat dated "Wines, Their Sensory Evaluation" (1976), University of California at Davis Profs. Maynard A. Amerine and Edward B. Roessler attributed this "rubbery" aroma to low-acid grapes and nicknamed it "The Fresno odor" because of its association with California Central Valley wines of the era.

More accurately, "rubber tire" is a wine fault associated with sulfur and sulfur compounds (not to be confused with sulfites used as a natural preservative). It's often blamed on "reduction" - the opposite of oxidation - in which sulfury components with unpleasant smells that can range from rubber to cooked cabbage to swamp gas turn up in wine that's been stored in the absence of oxygen.

It's not a pleasant character, but the good news is that it's usually reversible by vigorous aeration, overnight "breathing" or even an old wine-maker's trick that sounds like an urban legend, but really is not: Drop a clean copper-clad penny (or a Euro cent) into a glass of the affected wine, swirl it a few times, and, if you're lucky, the reductive aromas will quickly go away. Or stir the wine with a shiny silver spoon. As I've reported in past discussions of this topic, it's not magic, just chemistry: The metal in the coin or spoon reacts with the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that's causing the problem in the wine, quickly converting the smelly compound into insoluble, odorless (and harmless) copper or silver sulfide.

Wouldn't it be nice if all wine faults could be neutralized as easily as that?


Peique 2005 Bierzo Tinto Mencia ($11.99)

Peique

This is a very dark reddish-purple wine, shading to a clear edge. It starts with the distinct "rubber-tire" aroma of a sulfury, reductive wine, but time (or a copper-clad penny) banishes this flaw, revealing blackberries and plums, pleasant and rather delicate fruit, that carries over in a fresh and ripe flavor well balanced by crisp acidity. Soft tannins show mostly in the finish. U.S. importer: Vinos & Gourmet Inc., Richmond, Calif., a Jose Pastor Selection. (April 25, 2007)

FOOD MATCH: Food friendly, fine with burgers or steak. It went nicely with a variation, burgers fashioned from ground turkey thigh meat with a spicy Southwestern accent to help camoflauge its non-beef origin.

VALUE: With an asterisk about the reductive issue, which is reversible, it's a fine value - as are so many Spanish reds - in the lower teens.

WHEN TO DRINK: Once you banish the sulfury reductiveness, its clean fruit and acidic balance suggest a wine that will keep for at least a year or two, although there's no reason not to drink it now.

PRONUNCIATION:
Mencia = "Mehn-see-ah" (or "Mehn-thee-ah" in Castilian Spanish)
Bierzo = "B'yehr-zoe"

WEB LINKS:
The importer's slightly too-fancy Website doesn't make it easy to go directly to a fact sheet on Bodegas Peique, but try this: Click the link below to get to the front page, then click "Estates." When the map of Spain comes up, hover your cursor over the dots in the northwestern section until Bierzo comes up. Click, then click "Bodegas Pieque" from the resulting page, and you're finally there.
http://www.vinosandgourmet.com

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Check prices and find vendors for Peique Bierzo Mencia on Wine-Searcher.com.
http://www.wine-searcher.com/
find/Peique%2bBierzo%2bMencia/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP



Talk About Wine Online

To read and comment on today's column in our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group, click:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?t=7890

Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.
http://community.netscape.com/winelovers?nav=messages&tsn=1&tid=5227

To contact me by E-mail, write wine@wineloverspage.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/
2007/04/rubber_tire-print.html



This week on WineLoversPage.com

Dibbern on Wine: A Shock to the System
Wine lovers, advocates, enthusiasts, spectators and aficionados, let's get right to the controversy: Travel shock, believe it or not? Columnist Donald A. Dibbern Jr. takes an in-depth look at this controversial topic.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/dibbern/shock07.phtml

WebWineMan: You Say Gris, We Say Great!
They call it Pinot Gris in Oregon and France; the Italians call it Pinot Grigio. Richard Fadeley and the Columbia (S.C.) Free Times tasting team scrutinize this easy-drinking, thirst-quenching wine.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/webwineman/pinotgris07.phtml

This week's "TalkShoe": Best wines and a special guest
We invited Gary Vaynerchuk from WineLibraryTV to join us special guest on this week's live Internet radio TalkShoe to discuss his cutting-edge Internet wine videos. You can download the show to listen online or with your iPod; and don't forget to mark your calendar to join us next Monday at 12:30 p.m. US EDT (18:30 in Western Europe). See the TalkShoe page for details:
http://wineloverspage.com/talkshoe/

WineLovers Discussion Group: Can vegetarian fare be matched with fine wine?
A reader's question yielded a resounding "yes" from vegetarians and omnivores alike in our WineLovers Discussion Group forum. You'll find lots of good specific suggestions as you read the conversation and, we hope, add your own comments and suggestions.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?t=7871

Netscape WineLovers Community Poll: How common is "corked" wine?
It's time for another of our periodic "snapshot" polls in which we look for a current reading on wine lovers' perceptions of the incidence of cork-tainted wine. The field seems to be changing fast, as screw caps and synthetic closures gain market share, while the cork industry fights back by pushing quality control, at least at the premium level. We're hoping for a large number of votes and comments this week, as our Netscape/CompuServe Community poll invites you to tell us your cork-taint experiences.
http://community.netscape.com/winelovers?nav=messages&tsn=1&tid=5226



Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Exploring Burgundy - Where's Monthelie? (Apr. 27, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070427.php

 When blends break the law (Apr. 25, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070425.php

 What's on the label? (Apr. 23, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070423.php

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/archives.php

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Tuna and shrimp orzo (Apr. 26, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/food/tsfl20070426.php

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/food/archives.php