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bitter almond note

The bitter almond is the fruit of the almond tree of the species amara (there are also sweet fruits of the species sativa). The bitter almonds contain the glucoside amygdalin and are poisonous in large quantities due to hydrocyanic acid. Bitter almond oil, which smells of benzaldehyde and hydrocyanic acid, is extracted from the kernels and is used in perfumes, pharmaceutical preparations and as a flavouring agent. In many Italian wines, there is a delicate odour or taste of bitter almonds known as amarognolo (amaro = bitter), which is desirable.

Bittermandelton - Mandeln und Blüten

Wine faults

However, there is also a wine defect known as bitter almond taint, which is generally categorised as serious. This occurs when blue fining is used incorrectly and is also known as over-toning. The blood lye salt used in this process can be split into iron cyanide and the highly toxic hydrocyanic acid, which smells significantly like bitter almonds. The various causes for this are incorrect dosing of the blood lye salt, insufficient mixing of the wine after adding the salt or too slow a reaction due to masking of the iron by adding complexing agents.

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