Have you ever noticed a burning match smell when putting your nose into a white Burgundy? Jasper Morris MW explains what is happening.

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Ask Decanter: White Burgundy and burning match smell

Jamie Bateman, from Bristol, asks: On some white Burgundies and other white wines, I have come across an aroma that reminds me of a burning match. Is it a fault?

Jasper Morris MW, for Decanter, replies: Dear Jamie, this is not a fault – indeed far from it – though of course it may not be to everybody’s taste. It is partly a reaction to a period in which white wines, especially Burgundy, have not been ageing as well as they should.

One way to protect them is with sulphur, but you have to handle this carefully. Too much gives you a coarse sensation that catches in the back of the throat and blocks up your nostrils.

However, an intelligently managed use of sulphur woven into the fabric of the wine often delivers this intriguing burnt match or gunflint aroma, which I and others very much appreciate – so long as it does not interfere with the underlying fruit.

Jasper Morris MW is Burgundy director for UK merchant Berry Bros & Rudd. He is also Burgundy regional chair in the Decanter World Wine Awards.

  • Jason Lewis

    While I have a great respect for Mr. Morris, this is nonsense! Sulfur dioxide IS a part of winemaking, yes — from keeping barrels clean to a by-product from fermentation, but if you can actually smell SO2 (burnt match), it’s *definitely* a fault. Certainly not as catastrophic as H2S (rotten egg), at least SO2 has the chance to “blow off” and dissipate. But if it’s that noticeable, then — sorry, Mr. Morris — it’s a fault.

  • Eric Meyer

    Bogus.