Posts Tagged ‘Faults’

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.

Read on …

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.

Read on …

CLICK to download PDF of Common Wine Faults