Wine Flaws and How to Avoid a Bad Wine

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Many times words get thrown around in the wine world. It should not be this way, but I find that the average wine drinker feels a bit embarrassed to ask “what does that mean”. I guess it feels safer to just nod and say ok… This is a habit that should be broken because by no means should the wine world be intimidating. Wine should be a wonderful voyage of constant enjoyment and learning. Afterall, wine is poetry in a bottle. Here at Cantinetta Vintners our purpose is to give people the tools to feel more confident in and around a wine public. So today, I will describe a few of those words or terms that get thrown around a lot. And come on, I’m sure you’ve all heard of them in some instance. One does not have to be a truffle hunting dog from Piedmont with an extremely acute sense of smell to tell that there’s something wrong or flawed with a wine. If at a restaurant, a wine that you ordered is in any way flawed, you have a right to refuse it. So don’t be shy…

Corked – A natural substance called TCA or in scientific words Trichloroanisole. The good news is that TCA does not pose a health risk to consumers. Wineries in most wine-producing countries, along with the cork industry, continue their research efforts to minimize the presence of TCA in wine. Simply, when a wine is considered to be corked, it smells like a wet, moldy basement, wet dog or a wet rag that is getting moldy. This is a very complicated subject that deals with a lot of chemistry, so I won’t go into detail. All you need to know is that if a wine smells like any of the above, send it back or dump it out. Hopefully, it was not a Chateaux Petrus!

Oxidized – A wine is considered to be oxidized when faulty corks let too much oxygen into a bottle. Wine and too much oxygen while in storage is a really terrible thing. Ever wonder why top restaurants and wine shops store their wines lying down? Cork tends to dry out and contract if too dry. This makes for a very inefficient seal. So a way to avoid this is to store your bottles flat to let corks humidify with wine contact. Sometimes, you have no control over what happened at the winery or during shipping. So if a wine in your collection is oxidized, don’t beat yourself up over it! Maybe it was not even your fault… A way to spot an oxidized wine is in the mouth. Take a sip… Red wines will taste flat or flavorless (no oak, berries etc…), and whites will taste like apple cider or sherry.

Cooked – No, this does not mean that Chef Bobby Flay slaved away in his Kitchen all night cooking wines. A term known as bottle shock is when wines were either stored or transported at extreme temps. Red wines should be kept if possible at 56-65 degrees fahrenheit. If this temp. fluctuates too much over these set temperatures a wine most likely will get cooked. That is why refrigerated shipping containers exist. In old European construction, stone and brick homes seem to keep wines at a temp between 56-65 degrees even in Summer. Here’s a small tip when running a lot of errands in a hot place, buy your wines on your last stop on the way home…

So, in conclusion, bad wine can often be traced to bad storage practices or a tainted cork. Try your best to do your part. This will make for an excellent wine experience… Enjoy!

Categories: Wine Wisdom

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For any inquiries please email me at chris@cantinettavintners.com

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