Petillance in red wine always a fault?

I’ve just opened a bottle of Bodegas Ponce La Casilla Bobal, Manchuela 2020 in the Spanish Reds box and whilst I find the wine itself really quite nice, there is a slight fizz on the tongue. Only very slight, but noticeable nevertheless.

Looking it up online it seems to suggest that in a bottle of white, it can be by design but with red it’s always a fault.
I have every intention of finishing the bottle, I just wondered whether or not this is always an issue or whether it can simply be a legitimate feature of some red wines?

Thanks in advance for the education!

I can’t speak with authority on this but I’ve always seen it as an unpleasant fault when I’ve experienced it. It doesn’t feel right - or intended - compared to some whites where it can work nicely.

My FiL always says a weed in your garden is just a plant you don’t want there…

By his logic… Did you enjoy it? If so, not really a fault is it? :grinning:


Interesting and fairly brief thread on this here:

Tldr: if it’s dissolved CO2 no need to worry, a decant or good bottle shake (thumb firmly on) or two will sort it out. If it’s secondary fermentation/ unfiltered yeasts then maybe not. I

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CO2 in light fruity red wines with low levels of tannin designed to be drunk in their youth like say some Beaujolais and Beaujolais villages, even some lighter crus Beaujolais, red Vinho Verde, some light Rhône wines, perhaps made from cinsault, some entry level and even some top end pinot noirs where it contributes to the structure from the acidity, as there may be little tannin some pinots, is often beneficial.

CO2 is acidic so it increases acidity, confers a bit of zip and freshness, it protects from oxidation so preserves fruit aromas and flavours, and allows the winemaker to use less SO2. High levels of SO2 can temporarirly or permanently depress the fruit. So using more CO2 and less SO2 is good for wines which are best enjoyed early as the fruit is more apparent. It may beneficially reinforce the structure of low tannin, light red wines by contributing acidity. One would rarely want it in firm, tannic wines as it reinforces the astringency.

Its a by product of the fermentation and if the wine is lodged in closed stainlees steel tanks, glass and some ceramic vessels the CO2 produced during fermentation is retained. Winemakers can control how much is allowed into the bottle by racking before bottling. If you do not like the CO2 then decanting a wine will remove most of it.

After fermentation wines may have over 2000mg/l of CO2. White vinho verdes are often bottled about 700-800 mg/l which gives a slight prickle on the tongue. Something like 500mg/l would give a low tannin, light red wine a pleasant freshness. Less than about 300-400mg/l is below most people’s threshold of perception, but this varies between people.

Kept a long time in a porous container ie a wooden barrel, most of the CO2 escapes, especially if the wine is racked. One would not expect CO2 in an red cru Bourgeois Bordeaux and above where wines are usually racked and kept 12-24 months in barrel.

However some Burgundian producers, such as Fourrier, deliberately try and keep some CO2 in the barrel and never rack. Fourrier often advises decanting his wines to remove the CO2 before drinking. Some are experimenting with large wooden barrels and vats to retain more CO2. Others are using glass and certain ceramic containers which are inert and so the CO2 is retained. The retained CO2 preseves delicate pinot noir aromas and increases acidity which may be beneficial post global warming as the climate gets hotter.

There can be an accidental cause which results from a wine bottled with yeast, residual sugar and low SO2, perhaps because of a filtration failure, or no filtration. Closed with a cork the CO2 cannot escape. Some sediment may be produced from the yeast cells and this may lead to off flavours. If a wine has CO2 and is cloudy it is often an unwanted secondary fermentation in bottle. An excessive combination of SO2 and CO2 can lead to reduction which can produce cabbagey aromas or, in the worst cases a smell of rotten eggs, hydrogen sulphide. Light reduction is often cured in a bottled wine by allowing more oxygen into the wine by decanting.


My first wine with some CO2 was a Montferrato about fifteen years ago that was light and lovely. Really enjoyed. The Garnacha by Bodegas Mazas had some that shouldn’t have been there and needed degassing.

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Red Lambrusco would be fairly undrinkable without the fizz. Back in the 1980’s it was pretty much unavoidable but now rarely encountered.

However I see TWS have one ! and thankfully bone dry (in the awful 80’s it was often sweetish)

I’ve had it in the Society’s Monte, and had a much shorter explanation than Tobys very in depth reply, from Members Services :rofl:, but essentially saying the same this. SO2, give it a swirl and it’ll be fine, and it they were right on that occasion.

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Wow, thank you, that’s pretty much exactly the answer/education I was hoping for (but not really expecting)!

You don’t get that level of explanation at your local off-licence do you :joy:


Not withstanding Toby’s detailed response, some wines are kept in tanks to which CO2 or Nitrogen has been added to ensure little or no oxygen is in contact with the surface of the wine and some are bottled with a light spritz of gas added to the bottle neck during filling, all in the name of preserving freshness. That can lead to a certain amount finding its way into the wine. In my experience, screwcaps also tend to retain more gas in bottles than corks. There’s an interesting distinction in the new EU ingredients labelling regulations: when gas is deliberately added to a wine to give it an enlivening petillance, or indeed to render it sparkling (or semi-sparkling), it’s an ingredient; when applied to preserve a wine, it’s a processing aid, so not declared as an ingredient, even though some may be detected in the wine.


I misread the thread title as “Pestilence in red wine…” and thought of this :joy:

Already reaching for my cloakroom ticket…

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An Old Testament view!

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