Ethyl acetate is formed by the esterification of ethanol and acetic acid, and is the most common ester in wine. It is produced by spoilage yeasts, especially Pichia anomala and Kloeckera apiculata, and by bacteria, especially lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria. Because it’s formation is concomitant with the production of acetic acid, it is most often seen in wines with high levels of volatile acidity. However, it does not directly contribute to volatile acidity, and is considered a separate fault.
Ethyl acetate is a colourless liquid with a characteristic “sweet” smell which becomes sharp at higher concentrations. The sensory threshold for ethyl acetate is around 120 mg/L. At low levels, ethyl acetate contributes to a general perception of “fruitiness” in the wine. At higher levels, it is considered a fault. Aromas associated with ethyl acetate include cherry, grape, pear drops, nail varnish remover, and solvent.