Spotting 6 wine flaws

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Louis Martin Napa Valley Pinot Noir

Seeing an old bottle of wine from a reputable region could seem promising.  However, not all wines and all varietals are meant for aging, only a small percentage of wine, (less than 8%) are meant for extended aging.  This leads to the first wine flaw, which happens to be the most common.

  1. Oxidation -This could happen during the wine making process or when wines were aged for too long in bottle.  Over exposed to oxygen will lead to wine tasting flat, sherry-like or wet-ground smell and sometime with sour taste.  
  2. Corked -another very common flaw, contaminated (natural) corks could leak 2,4,6-trichloroanisole into wine, causing it to smell and taste moldy, with dead-fish or rotten-egg smell.
  3. Volatile Acidity -unwanted bacteria finds its way in the wine producing acetic acid.  Too much of it will render the wines too sour and undrinkable with pungent smell of nail polish or white vinegar.
  4. Re-fermentation -This is done purposely for Champagne and many other sparkling wines. But if you didn’t order sparkling but ended up with bubbles in your glass, a telltale sign of re-fermentation, a phenomenon when wine didn’t complete its fermentation during the wine making process and finished it in the bottle while aging. 
  5. Sulfur -Sulfur exist naturally on the grape skin and will carry through during the wine making process, in attempt to keep unwanted bacteria at bay, winemakers also add sulfite to prevent oxidation and also to sanitize equipment.  Wine with too much sulfur would not be pleasant to taste, particularly when it smells like match-stick or burnt rubber.
  6. Cooked -again, another very common flaw.  Wines during storage that are exposed to higher heat, leaving it in the trunk of your car or by your stove is as good as “cooked”.  Cooked wines will taste like more stew-like, dull, sherry and muted.

There it is, your wine detective starter kit.  You’re now ready to sniff out any defects and request a new bottle -hopefully at compliment of the restaurant.

Napa Valley Wines

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