Sunday, September 20, 2015

Common Wine Flaws

On average 1 out of 20 bottles of wine are flawed and worth sending back. Below are some of the most common wine flaws:


Wine is corked when it has been in contact with a cork infected with a fungus that produces 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). It is a compound that gets into cork and imparts a musty odor in the wine.

Despite what you may have seen in old movies, you’re not going to detect cork taint from sniffing the cork. It also has nothing to do with little pieces of cork that crumble into the wine. You’ll detect it by sniffing the wine and noticing a smell like wet, musty newspapers, wet cardboard, or moldy basement. The palate will taste similar, will lack fruit, and is often quite bitter.


The exposure of the wine to high temperatures. Warning signs of cooked wine include a cork protruding from the top lip of the bottle or wine seepage around the cork, which indicates that the wine was heated and expanded, pushing the cork or wine out of the bottle.


Some wines (Madeira, Sherry or older wines) are improved and pleasantly transformed by the tiny bit of oxygen passing through the cork during long storage. But a fresh, young wine will surely suffer if it has been exposed to too much air.

Oxidized wines often have a nutty flavor. Vivid reds turn brick-red or brown; whites darken to amber or gold-brown. In terms of aroma, white wines can smell like apple cider or Sherry. Red wines will smell flat and sometimes have a caramel quality.


Sulfur is a common additive typically used to prevent other wine faults when used at the right amount; but an excessive amount of sulphur will produce fairly characteristic (annoying) aromas and flavours.

If you notice rotten egg, fart, burnt rubber, skunk, or asparagus pee in your wine, you probably have a sulfur problem. An exception is the ageing Syrah from the Northern Rhône, which with bottle development will often have a rubbery element to the nose that is a characteristic of the wine, rather than the result of sulphur.

Secondary Fermentation:

Look for tiny bubbles in your wine especially in an old bottle of red wine. This usually happens when the residual sugar in the bottled wine feeds some critter introduced in unsanitary bottling.