Phenols are a class of chemical compounds commonly found in wine (and chili peppers, cannabis, raspberries and wintergreen to name just a few). In wine they can bestow pleasant aromas like vanilla, wood, cloves, carnations or animal smells such as horse.
Now you may enjoy a little horse leather in your glass, but probably not horse manure. 4-ethyl-phenol is the compound responsible for this horseplay and there’s 4 times more it found in red wines than in white. It shows up more often if the grapes have been macerated without any oxygen before the fermentation process. Continue reading