The Laws of Flaws in Wine

This one is easy. Too much air mixing with the wine at the wrong times. You’ll get a musty smell  like wet cardboard. To familiarize  yourself with this, let your next Amazon order that arrives in a cardboard box linger outside until it gets rained on. Then, bring it inside and take a big waft.  You’ll get the scent. Also, If you see a brownish coloration in the wine, you can almost be sure that it is oxidized.

Corked Wine
I’ve written about this one before and we’ve all heard it. “The wine is corked.” Corked wine is spoiled by a chemical compound called TCA. The corks become infected by TCA during the process of being made. A corked wine can have a musty or moldy smell and it really mutes the taste of the wine. To better acquaint yourself with this smell, leave several slices of bread in the plastic wrapping for a month. Then open it to find all the moldy bread. Breathe in. You’ll get it.
Btw, in the past, corked wines were said to be as much as 10% of all wines. In the last couple of years, advances in the the cork industry have virtually eliminated tainted corks.

Hydrogen Sulfide
Have an off smell and taste akin to rotten eggs? That’s H2S. This one will take some time. A new egg left out of the refrigerator will take as much as six weeks to begin to form the bacteria that causes the egg to rot and gives you that unfortunately familiar odor known as “rotten egg.”
Sulfur Dioxide
Your wine have a burnt match smell? That’s SO2. Strike a match. Put out the flame. Inhale. Tada. You have it.

Volatile Acidity
This flaw is a result of bacteria spoilage. VA (volatile acidity) smells like vinegar. All wine has VA. If you get the vinegar smell, it’s due to too much VA. This one is pretty rare. Go to your pantry. Take out the vinegar. Unscrew the cap. Breathe in. Frankly, it always makes me think of coloring Easter eggs.

Also known as “brett,” will cause the wine to smell and taste like a barnyard, stables, sweaty saddles, gaming meats and so forth. It is caused by a stray yeast. There are some who think that Brett spoils a wine beyond redemption. At lower levels of concentration, there are those who appreciate a bit of Brett in their wine, especially those who like earthy, leathery notes in their wine like I do

Here’s to hoping the wines you purchase and the wines you’re served are all lacking the flaws listed above.