Definition - What does Acetone mean?

Acetone, technically called ethyl acetate from the ester family, is one of the most common esters found in wines. Many people describe it as nail-polish remover. If it is identified by the winemaker during the winemaking process, it should be corrected as soon as possible, as it is difficult, if not almost impossible, to remove.

The presence of acetone is often common in grapes with thinner skins that can be contaminated from the vine with Acetobacter aceti. This is an aerobic bacteria which will convert the alcohol that the yeasts have produced by action of consuming sugars into acetic acid (vinegar), however, sometimes the bi-product can instead be that of acetone in the proper conditions.

WineFrog explains Acetone

The presence of acetone in wine can be prevented if grapes are properly processed promptly following their arrival at the winery after harvest. If the grapes are allowed to sit, and their juices are exposed to air, this can create an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow. Grapes and juices can also be treated with sulphite, as it is lethal to the bacteria.

If the acetone still exists post-fermentation, it may be possible to get rid of it by re-fermentating the wine or bubbling the wine with CO2. As a last resort, fining the wine with polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP), a synthetic fining agent, which can absorb certain polyphenolics and may also remove any acetone taint.

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