I recently moved to a new city in Austria and have noticed that many (but not all, so it’s definitely not a problem with my taste perception) of the local red wines taste salty. I’ve tried red wines both on the cheaper and expensive side and they all give off this salty taste. Almost all that I’m referring to are Blauer Zweigelt variety. Is this salty taste coming from the grape variety, or could it be something else like my glass or detergent (I make sure that I wash the glass very thoroughly)?
Why do some wines taste salty?
Ed C. Kraus, a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999 has 4 possible reasons why a wine may have a salty taste. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.
My first thought would be that if you are aging in a wooden barrel, the remnant salts from the sodium metabisulfite may have built up over the years through insufficient rinsing or no rinsing at all. But this is very unlikely. If you make any kind of conscious effort to rinse a barrel you would be able to keep up with the trace amount of salts that are left behind with each wine batch.
My second thought is that a mistake was made in a dosage added to a wine/must. For instance, yeast nutrient (diammonium phosphate) would add what some would call a salty taste to the wine if too much were added, but this would take many times the normal recommend dosage.
Third would be saltiness from the grapes themselves. This could add a salty taste in wine. This could apply if you made the wine from fresh grapes from a vineyard. The mineral content of the soil is always reflected in the grape’s flavor to some degree. This is one of the reasons a grape’s origin is always noted. If you are making wine for the first time from a particular soil or terroir, then this is what could be going on.
The fourth thing that comes to mind is a mold infection. The only reason I left this for last is because it is the least likely of the four. This is because by the time the wine has a salty taste from mold, it is already blatantly obvious from a visual inspection that mold as set in. So if you don’t see any patches of dried crust on the surface anywhere, or a rainbow-ed, oil-slick look on the wine’s surface, the salty taste in the wine is not being caused by a mold.
Beyond these things the only thing that comes to mind is accidentally putting salt in the wine.