I was super excited one night to open my bottle of Infantado Ruby Port. Not so excited to pull the cork out and know immediately, it was faulted. Ugh…so disappointing! Even more disappointing to open my Morse Code Shiraz right afterwards and find…the same thing! Apparently, having a glass of wine that night was not meant to be. It is estimated that 3-5 percent of all wines have been contaminated and spoiled by a faulty cork. So what does this mean? Read on…
For those of us that drink and enjoy wine, you may come across a bottle that you know is off, but you just can’t put your finger on what the problem is. Don’t worry! As long as you can identify that it is not “normal”, you don’t have to tell the store the exact name of the fault! “It’s faulted”, is all that’s needed and you should get a new bottle.
I’ll tell you why you’re not crazy in what you’re smelling….
If it smells like stale nuts or rotten fruit: It’s oxidized – The wine has been exposed to too much oxygen. It darkens white wine pigments, and lightens red wine pigments.
If it smells like vinegar: It has too much Acetic Acid – All wines contain acetic acid, however, if there’s too much, it smells like vinegar and considered to have Volatile Acidity (VA)
If it smells like an overpowering burnt match: There is too much sulfur – Again, all wines contain some sulfur, but highest doses are found in dessert wines, followed by whites, then reds.
If it smells like rotten eggs: That is the sulfur reacting with the lees (lees are the dead yeast cells that wine sometimes sits on during aging to have the flavours imparted into the wine). Sometimes it can dissipate with aeration, but if it doesn’t…return it!
If it smells like your brother’s gym bag: It could be Mercaptans – This is extremely rare today, but it’s another sulfur based compound that could produce very unpalatable smells…eww.
It if smells like a moldy basement, or wet cardboard: That’s Trichloranisole (TCA). Produced by chlorine-based chemicals that react with mold in various organic substances, such as cork and oak.
New types of closures, such as screw caps, crown caps, synthetic corks and the new-ish Vino-Lock closures, have led to a significant reduction in faults. Those that still use the authentic cork closure, have become more diligent with hygiene in the winery. Proper wine storage is also of the utmost importance, but for those of us without a temperature controlled environment with 75% humidity, storing the wine on its side in a cooler, dark area, such as a basement, will suffice.
Got a bad bottle? Be sure to keep your receipt when purchasing wine! You can get faulty wine in a $10 bottle, or a $1000 bottle! Take it back to the store where purchased to get a replacement bottle. If you drank the whole bottle, though, THEN try and take it back? That just won’t work!!