Yes – it happens, & is most often referred to as secondary fermentation, which is fine in brewing beer, but normally considered a serious flaw in a red wine. Fizzy wine comes from the residual sugars that were not effectively converted to alcohol in the first fermentation, so another round gets going inside the actual bottle (rather than in the cask or barrel). Now, with a white wine, such as a chardonnay, this could lead to the favorable outcome of a champagne,(or a cava, or prosecco – depending where you are, and what grape you are cultivating) where the second fermentation is promoted by bottling the young wine with extra sugar and yeast, thereby creating an abundance of bubbles.
But when we find this happening in a red, it is frequently a mishap. I have had one other accidentally fizzy bottle of red, a Sangiovese, made by Frey. Frey’s claim to fame is that they produce wines with no added sulfites (or sulfur dioxide), or sometimes even with no detectable sulfites at all. This all began as a spinoff of the organic movement in wine, coupled with the problem many people believe that sulfites give them a headache. Sulfites are sometimes sprayed on the grapes as an insecticide/fungicide, and they are also introduced to the fermentation process to keep the actual barrels free of mold, as well as a general antimicrobial to stabilize the fermentation process. On a side note, though sulfites are commonly blamed for red wine headaches, it could more likely be the tannins, or even the histamines present in the wine, and those who are really curious might even question the presence of prostaglandins as the culprit. Nonetheless, there are more sulfites present in many common foods than there are in red wine, and no one ever cries about lunch meat headaches…
My point with the Sangiovese, was that is was fizzy and gross. I personally feel that sulfites are an important preservative in wine, thereby allowing said wine to age and mature properly, and without it you can get some really funky results. I let that particular bottle sit out to breathe for several hours, and it still continued to fizz in the mouth, so I dumped it. & I am one who will normally drink the bottle, unless it is truly corked or turned, and that was a rare exception that had to go straight down the drain.
We also once received a whole case that was gone over, not from Frey, but from a smaller winery, who was doing it’s best to be sustainable and forward thinking… you win some you loose some – here I thought I was getting a case of free wine that everyone else was just being snobby about, but no, it was completely turned, and I only got the depressing experience of opening and dumping 12 entire bottles of wine – selah.
One last little side track is that there actually is a new trend of fermenting Syrah so that it intentionally sparkles. This came from Australia, the land down under, where the varietal of grape is actually called Shiraz (exact same varietal – conversely Syrah and Petite Sirah are of little to no relation at all, what a mess!). So I am hypothesizing here, but I would venture to say that given Oz’ reputation for borderline wines (a situation that the continent is quickly remedying) one might surmise that more than a bottle or two of it’s early Shiraz’ may have gone a bit fizzy. Over time they perhaps just learned to roll with the process and endeavored to make the experience as palatable as possible? The common reputation for a sparkling Shiraz is still rather tacky and overly sweet, but Jed Steele of California has done up a savvier, drier version. This sparkling Syrah is called Black Bubbles, and I highly recommend a bottle for any special occasion that is bold and forward thinking, I find it especially appealing in the fall. Graduation, anyone?
So – this Beaujolais is calming down quite a bit after one hour open, and the traditional sweet fruit flavors are starting to peek their heads above the bubbles, so we shall see if it improves much more, and whether it shall be drunk or dumped… I might also note that Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape, is traditionally served young, and this bottle is an 05, so it might just be a bit long in the tooth, but what the hell, it was free.
In other news, I passed the health inspection today. The whole store got a pass, only the kitchen-to-be area needs to be cleaned up, as we are currently using it for storage, which apparently is not cool. Also, I don’t have my food safety managers certificate on hand to present to the inspector (it is lost in the dregs of my storage unit…somewhere). Fortunately Kelly, one of our shop girls (to coin a phrase) has hers, and it seems that that will do for now. I am scheduled to take the class next month, which is not necessarily something I am looking forward to, but is something I am prepared to handle.
For the time being I am just pleased as punch to have had my little juice bar pass muster without a hitch, the inspector lady really did seem so pleased when she held up her little scrap of Ph strip, freshly dunked in my sanitizing sink, and it glistened black in the florescents, proving there was bleach enough to kill a horse – ok, no not that much, I do try to take it easy on the bleach. I used to dump the shit all over the Diner, but only in times of crisis…
Anyhow, I am going to watch Revolutionary Road (DiCaprio and Winslet! Reunited!!) & drink my fizzy old wine, and call it a day. Goodnight!