In the winegrowing sector, the term “mousiness” (or more simply mouse) is on everyone’s lips. While it’s difficult to identify an even understand, this phenomenon is being discussed a lot! At SITEVI 2021, the much awaited talk by IFV helped shed light on this famous wine defect. How can you spot mousiness in wine? Follow our tips!
The SITEVI figure: 30%
This is the percentage of people who do not perceive this defect in wine. As the saying goes, everything’s a matter of taste… And for people who do notice it, the aroma is not always the same. People might compare it to popcorn, rice crackers, a mouse cage or cold cuts.
Mousiness: a quick explainer
In the past few years, mousiness is a sensorial defect on the rise. It is mainly perceived during retro nasal olfaction, i.e., after spitting out or swallowing the wine. It can also be noted that this taste is particularly stubborn: it can remain in your mouth up to 10 minutes after the tasting.
However, given that sensitivity can vary from one person to another, it can also be complex to spot. All the more so in just a tasting sample. Even today, its precise origins are unknown, but several molecules causing it have already been identified. So why has it come to occupy centre stage again in recent years? There is quite certainly a link with the reduction of sulphur dioxide (SO2).
Tips to spot mousiness in a sample
What is the main difficulty in spotting mouse? The pH of saliva has an influence on the perception of the defect. As a salivary pH can vary widely, it is thus very difficult to have a common aromatic perception when tasting. Fortunately, there are other ways of detecting this defect.
N°1 - Bicarbonate of soda
To provide confirmation of mousiness, you can quite simply add bicarbonate of soda to in the wineglass in question.
N°2 - Fingertip detection
While it is difficult to be conclusive on mousiness, it is nevertheless possible to wet your finger in the glass and wave it in the air to make the aromas more volatile. Mousiness will therefore be easier to perceive by smell. However, this method has its limitations, because skin pH also varies widely between individuals.
Good to know
During a wine tasting session, it is important to drink a glass of water between each wine so that saliva can return to its original pH.
N°3 – Soda test strips
Another tip might be very useful: dip a soda-coated test strip into the wine sample. You must then leave it to dry before you smell the aroma.
Mousiness: prevention is better than cure
There is no 100% efficient cure in the event of proven mousiness. But the good news is that this defect doesn’t generally last for ever: it simply fades over time! It’s just therefore a matter of biding your time and waiting for a few months before you sell the wine.
A few everyday rituals could be adopted to prevent the defect :
- Taste your wine regularly.
- Clean your tanks and barrels to maintain perfect hygiene.
- Use bio-protection methods [also read (in French) Bioprotection, comment ça marche ? ].
- Bottle your wine quickly.
- Make sure the wine ferments properly.
There can be a large number of defects in wine, and mousiness probably has a lot more secrets to reveal. A few actionable tips can help to detect it, but there is no miracle solution, other than to be patient!