Posts Tagged ‘Bad’

One of the most disappointing moments in life is opening up a bottle of wine and realizing that it’s spoiled. While it may seem trivial to consider such an occurrence as such a detrimental moment, you have to realize that we’re passionate about wine.

Besides, it’s embarrassing to return a bad bottle of wine at a restaurant. And, it’s frustrating when you find that perfect bottle, only to come home and discover you wasted your money. Remember, we’re talking about wine that has a default flavor profile, not ranting about wines that taste horrible. So, how exactly does a bottle of wine go bad? There are several factors that can explain so.

Oxidation

Perhaps the most common fault in wine is oxidation. This occurs when the wine is overexposed to oxygen, which is wine’s worst enemy. Oxidation will lead wine to lose it’s flavor, giving it a lifeless taste and resembling vinegar. Color will also be affected. White wines will appear darker and others will become cloudy.

Environmental Conditions

There are various environmental conditions that can ruin a bottle of wine. These can occur from the wine-making process to bottling to storage. Here’s a rundown of the most common environmental problems.

  • Tainted cork, or TCA, occurs when mold grows on a chlorine bleached cork, or even in the barrel. It creates an earthy, moldy and musty aroma that masks the wines natural fruit aromas.
  • Heat exposure, or maderized, happens when the wine is literally cooked. This is a result of in-proper storage, meaning the wine has spent an excessive amount of time above  55°F.Lightstrike can be a problem when a bottle of wine has been overexposed to UV radiation.
  • Ladybird taint can turn wine rancid when bugs, mostly beetles like ladybirds or Asian lady beetle, are harvested along with grapes.
  • Brettanomyces, or simply Brett, is simply yeast spoilage. Since this thrives on wood products, like barrels, we’ll go ahead and say that this is an environmental condition. Once a winery has been infected, it’s difficult to get rid of, since it can transfer from wood to wood. The result is a wine that tastes like a barnyard or wet dog.

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From a Long Island iced tea to a white Russian we reveal which drinks have the highest number of calories.
A recent study claimed that the beer belly is a myth adding “there is no scientific evidence to support the assertion that beer causes weight gain”.

The UK’s public health minister, Anna Soubry, recently revealed that the government is considering displaying the amount of calories contained in bottles of beer, wine and spirits. Californian wine giant Gallo has chosen to reveal the number of calories on its new lower alcohol wines and a number of other new low and lower alcohol wine launches, such as Skinnygirl wine from US reality TV star Bethenny Frankel, have flagged up their low calorie credentials in their marketing material.

While carbohydrates are present in beer, which are bad according to the Adkins diet, there is no fat or cholesterol in the product. So which drinks should you avoid if you are counting the calories?

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My reward ...

My reward …

 

“It’s a way to be bad while being good.”

Sacha Scoblic, 38, author of “Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety,” summarizes the double-edged allure of drinking. It’s a legal mode of escapism, and the camaraderie over talking about drinking is as intoxicating as the buzz itself — especially among mothers.

“I need a drink!” is shorthand for “I’ve worked hard, and I’ve earned it.” And what mom wouldn’t cop to being busy?

The whine-wine culture is celebrated in books like “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay” and websites like Moms Who Need Wine, a Boston-based group with more than a half-million members (“If you’re not sure you could survive motherhood without a stockpile of your favorite Red, then you’ve come to the right place!”) There’s a wine label called MommyJuice (“Because you deserve it”), not to be confused with Mommy’s Time Out (“Need a break? Take a Mommy’s Time Out!”)
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The 7 Main Wine Faults
Oxidized Wine …aka maderized wine

What it is: Contamination/chemical breakdown caused by too much oxygen exposure. Rusted metal is oxidized…it’s that same process but in your wine. Oxidization is the most common wine fault and is easy to replicate at home with any bottle of wine.
How you can tell: Oxidized wines lose their brightness, both in color and in flavor. Bright reds turn to brick color or brownish, and fresh tastes develop drier, more bitter characteristics. White wines are much more susceptible to oxidization than reds, because reds’ higher tannin levels act as a buffer. If you really want to see what this looks like: open a new bottle, pour a glass and save that bottle for about a week. Congrats, your bottle is ruined. Drink some and compare it to that first glass you had.
Can I fix it? No, but you can prolong the shelf life of opened wine by using a wine preserving tool. If your bottle is oxidized right off the shelf, it was either poorly sealed or mishandled. Take it back!

2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA) …aka cork taint

What it is: A chemical containment that found its way into your bottle somewhere in production, usually from the wooden cork. TCA can be present in oak barrels, or the processing lines at the winery as well, which leads to entire batches, rather than single bottles, being ruined.
How you can tell: Dank odor and taste like wet newspaper, moldy basement or smelly dog. It’s estimated that over 2% of bottles are tainted with TCA to some degree, making it the second most common wine fault.
Can I fix it? Andrew Waterhouse, professor of wine chemistry at the UC Davis, claims you can pour the wine into a bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap. The TCA will be attracted to the polyethylene and pulled from your wine. I say life is too short for fixing wine faults. Send that bottle back!

Sulfur Compounds

What it is: Sulfur is a common additive to wine typically used to prevent other wine faults found in this article (ironically). Sometimes things can go wrong in its deployment though, and sulfur levels that are out of whack are pretty easy to notice.
How you can tell: There are 4 primary sulfur compounds that can give your wine some funk, but they all manifest themselves in terrible flavors and smells. If you notice rotten egg, fart, burnt rubber, skunk, or asparagus pee in your wine, you probably have a sulfur problem.
Can I fix it? The offending flavor can be weakened through decanting (watch this). If it is strong though, you should send it back from whence it came.

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CLICK to download PDF of Common Wine Faults

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A ban on alcohol advertising—and possibly articles—pits the government against a growing wine culture

Russia’s latest salvo in a long battle against alcohol abuse by its citizens is a sweeping ban on all alcohol advertising in media outlets. It’s likely to have an unforeseen victim: the country’s small but booming wine culture.

Russian governments have fought the country’s age-old culture of hard drinking for more than a century. A 2011 global report by the World Health Organization (WHO) on alcohol abuse cited Russia and its neighbors as the hardest-drinking countries in the world. Now, provoked partly by a rising tide of youthful beer binge drinking, the government is cracking down on what it sees as an important public health issue.

Few observers think Russia’s newly emerging and increasingly sophisticated fine wine scene was in the sights of the legislature, the Duma, when it enacted the advertising ban last summer. Nonetheless, the law, which took effect Jan. 1, has had an impact. It makes no distinction between beer, wine and spirits. All advertisements are banned in both traditional and online media, and state authorities have warned the ban may be applied to the editorial content of wine publications and newspaper wine columns.

“Wine is not one of the hit targets of the government … yet,” said Spiros Malandrakis, an analyst of the global drinks markets for Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm. “They mostly focus on hard liquor and beer, but the law makes no distinction.” Beer in particular has been a sore point, and to stem the tide of its growth among young people (Russia’s legal drinking age is 18), the government in recent years has doubled excise taxes, limited hours of sale and, as of January, outlawed sales from sidewalk kiosks.

According to WHO’s 2011 study, the average Russian drinks the equivalent of about 15.7 liters of pure alcohol per year—65 percent more than in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds of the alcohol consumed comes from hard liquor, one third comes from beer and only 1 percent from wine.

Nevertheless, wine consumption is growing at a steady 6 percent a year, according to Euromonitor. At the top end of the market, fine wine is growing much faster—middle class and affluent Russians are turning away from vodka and looking to wine as a less potent, food-friendly alternative. Importers say that the market for wines from France, Italy, Spain and the New World—after a downtown following the 2008 economic crisis—has rebounded with double-digit growth. And Russians are willing to pay the price for quality. Because of high import taxes and markups, a bottle of wine sold in boutiques and restaurants is generally three to five times more expensive than the same bottle in Europe or the U.S.

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The magic of blending.

The magic of blending.

 

The question of varietal versus blend comes up often when I’m taking groups through the wine country or conducting wine education seminars. And there seems to be a stereotypic image in the minds of many that blend is a “dirty word” and only the best wines are varietal.

This is definitely a regional phenomenon and one I believe is false. It only serves to intimidate consumers from experimenting with some of the world’s best wines.

The centuries-old custom for wines of the old world (as most of Europe is referred to in the world of wine) has been to name the wine by the region or producer. Historically the consumer identified with that practice.

By this nomenclature old world wines could be blends (e.g. Bordeaux or Chateauneuf-du-Pape) while others were 100 percent varietal (e.g. Burgundy or Barolo). For the most part the consumer was unaware of the varietal composition and often didn’t care. They identified with the wine and not the grape.

In the 1950s and 1960s, American wine writer Frank Shoonmaker — a visionary of his time — and others lead a concerted move in the U.S. to use varietal labeling (the name of the grape) rather than the more universally used “generic” names (Chablis, Burgundy, Chianti, Champagne) to connote quality and identity.

At that time in the industry’s pursuit of excellence and to differentiate U.S. wines, “blend” definitely became a dirty word.

 

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Ouch!

 

Unlike most other wine categories, Champagne sales were not sufficiently buoyed by surging demand from Asia and North America to compensate for declining shipments to Europe in 2012. A large share of consignments are Europe-bound and because of this, the economic crisis hit the region with a full frontal attack.

 

According to Champagne marketing board CIVC, sales of Champagne for the first eleven months of 2012 were down 3.8 percent on the previous year. The fall is primarily due to a drop in sales in France – the region’s largest market – where they declined by 5.2 percent to 144.35 million bottles, though also to falling volumes in Europe. Moving annual totals within Europe dropped by 8.3 percent due to markets such as the United Kingdom and Germany. However, Thibaut Le Mailloux, spokesman for the marketing board, said the figures should be put into perspective: “the downturn comes on the back of two years of strong growth that followed the 2008-2009 financial crisis”.

Fortunately, although many of the region’s sales outlets are in Europe, non-EU countries came to the rescue with a rise of 3.5 percent in sales. The Chinese market may well be geared to red wines, the first half of 2012 saw it reach a turning point with China entering the top 10 export destinations for Champagne for the first time ever. Sales surged by almost 100 percent to 947,713 bottles over the half-year. Fellow Asian market Japan also rose significantly (+26 percent) to over 4.5 million bottles.

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Hong Kong wine scene.

Hong Kong wine scene.

 

After climbing steadily over the previous three years, 2012 was not a great one for the wine auction market.

 

Sales of fine and rare wine slumped 19 percent last year, according to Wine Spectator, with worldwide revenues falling from $478 million in 2011 to $389 million last year. However, the details reveal a more nuanced picture, with the numbers coming out of Hong Kong far more grim than those from the United States.
According to the report, auction revenues were down 10 percent in the U.S. and a full 32 percent in Hong Kong. Richard Harvey, the senior international director of wine at Bonhams, attributed the drop in revenues to decreasing prices for Bordeaux wines, particularly Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which was wildly popular in China for a short period before demand cooled in late 2011.

There is, of course, an argument to be made that the wine market is… read on

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The energy industry’s growing interest in a controversial extraction technique has growers worried about water problems and other environmental concerns

 

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In several appellations on California’s Central Coast, winemakers tout the benefits of growing vines on soils rich with decomposing shale, which allows for good drainage and deep root penetration. Now that same terroir also promises bountiful harvests for the energy industry, whose experts predict that the region’s Monterey shale formation contains more than 15 billion gallons of oil.

But unlike typical drilling operations, which have long existed alongside many Central Coast vineyards, the only way to extract oil from the shale is with hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, a process in which water and chemicals are pumped into the ground at high pressure to break up the rocks and force out oil or natural gas. Though the basic technique has been used sporadically for at least 60 years in California, recent innovations combined with high energy prices make fracking more alluring than ever. Shale formations in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Ohio have produced promising returns.

Yet as the technique’s popularity grows so does the controversy. Critics claim fracking threatens freshwater resources, both because the process utilizes vast quantities of local water and because the chemicals used may contaminate sources. Fracking operations bring heavy traffic and pollution to quiet rural areas. And some geologists believe the process may increase the risk of earthquakes. Debates are raging in other states where fracking is under way. New York has been undergoing a 4-year environmental and health review to determine if fracking will be permitted and, if so, under what conditions. A decision is expected in late Feb.
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Wine lovers suffer as another investment company goes under.

A wine investment company that has gone into administration owing 5 million pounds ($8 million) to clients, misused their money to pay overheads rather than buy wine, according to the official administrator’s report. The firm is also slammed for keeping “inadequate” records.

London-based Vinance went into administration in November. However, at this stage it is not clear how many of the company’s 1,300 clients are owed money due to the company’s poor record keeping, say Herron Fisher.

The administrators tried to rescue the company as a going concern, but no purchaser could be found due to the “nature of the company’s trading, its incomplete records and its financial circumstances.”
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