The Edmond Sun

Features

February 25, 2013

Identifying Flaws and Faults in Wine

McClatchy — Sniff, swirl, sip. Whether at home or at a restaurant, analyzing wine is a fairly straightforward process. And when you stick your nose in a glass of wine, you’ll typically encounter pleasant aromas like fruits, flowers and spices. Sometimes, though, a wine will seem off.

One unfortunate truth about wine is that a decent percentage is flawed — somehow spoiled along the way to your table. Flawed wines should be poured down the drain or returned to your server. Wine should be delicious — and life is too short to drink bad wine.

Recognizing common wine flaws is at least as important as memorizing grape names and tasting descriptors. So here’s a quick primer on some common faults.

Cork Taint

Wines bottled under natural cork are vulnerable to damage from a fungus that feeds on the cork. This fungus produces a compound called “2,4,6-trichloroanisole,” or TCA. If the wine is affected by TCA, it’s “corked,” and the fruit will be masked by aromas reminiscent of wet cardboard or a damp basement. While TCA won’t make you sick, it’s not a pleasant odor.

Fortunately, corked wines are becoming less common. As recently as 2005, according to study by Wine Spectator, about one in 15 bottles was affected by TCA. But technological advances in the cork industry — combined with the increasing popularity of screw caps and artificial corks — have dramatically reduced incidence levels.

Heat Damage

Wine is perishable. And if it’s exposed to high temperatures — an all-too-common occurrence in the summertime — it may be “cooked.”

When you open a bottle of wine, check the cork to see if it’s streaked or drenched with wine. If it is, the wine might be heat-damaged, as heat causes wine to expand and push against the cork. But you’ll need to smell the wine to make sure, as it also could mean that the bottle was simply overfilled.

If the wine has been exposed to high temperatures, it will seem flat, with muted aromas and minimal flavor. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to determine if a bottle has mild to moderate heat damage. But a completely cooked bottle is hard to miss.

Oxidation

When you open a bottle of wine, also check to see if the cork is crumbly. If the wine is relatively young, this could be a sign of improper storage or a faulty cork and the wine could be oxidized. Wine exposed to a significant amount of oxygen loses its freshness, and will give off aromas of caramel, candied almonds and dried fruits. It may be reminiscent of Sherry and Madeira, as the production of those wines relies on oxygen. The color can also be a giveaway — white wine will appear more golden than you expect; red wine may take on a brown tinge.

Barnyard Funk

Ever encountered aromas of manure, sweat, wet dog or bandages in your wine? Those smells typically signal the presence of brettanomyces, a spoilage yeast typically called “brett.”

At low levels, the flavors imparted by brett can be enjoyable — in fact, they’re often desirable in wines from the Rhône Valley and Burgundy. But brett yeasts can’t be controlled. As wine blogger Joe Roberts once explained, “whether or not the wine has pleasant smoked meat characteristics or instead smells like one of my daughter’s diaper blow-outs is almost entirely dictated by chance.”

If you think your wine might be flawed and you’re at a restaurant, give your glass to the server and solicit her opinion. If she’s familiar with the wine, she’ll be able to let you know if something is off. And if she’s not familiar with it, she’ll probably trust your judgment or have someone with more expertise come to the table. If you’re at home, just trust your nose.

 

DAVID WHITE, a wine writer, is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com. His columns are housed at Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine (PalatePress.com).

1
Text Only
Features
  • peach formatted.jpg Hard year for peaches doesn’t dampen summer tradition  

    A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.”
    Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, might beg to differ. Even so, Porter is known for its peaches, and every year thousands of people flood this town of about 600 residents to taste and celebrate the local crop during the three-day Peach Festival.
    Like the aging water tower, Porter’s peach industry isn’t as vibrant as it once was.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Final step to train toddler with baby on way

    Q: Using your advice, I successfully toilet-trained my daughter by age 16 months. It is now three months later and we are still using diapers at naps and nighttime. At her nap, which lasts several hours, she fully soaks her diaper. At night, she is taking off her diaper prior to falling asleep, wetting the bed after she goes to sleep and then crying for us when she wakes up in a pool of pee. Is this a sign that I should begin night training? I'm hesitant to do this because I am 8 months pregnant and don't relish the idea of waking up several times a night to take her to the bathroom and tending to a newborn as well. I would prefer to continue using diapers until she is old enough to get out of bed and take herself to the potty (even a potty in her room). Is this unrealistic? Or should I just deal with the extra night wakings and start taking her to the potty a few times a night now? If not, how do I keep her diaper on at night?

    July 25, 2014

  • Living Smart: How landscaping can deter intruders, pests

    Done right, landscaping can do much more than attract compliments and boost your property value. It can help you repel intruders, both human and natural.
    Landscaping experts who’ve earned high marks from Angie’s List members say overgrown bushes and shrubs are like welcome mats to burglars. Keep plants and trees trimmed. Place thorny but attractive bougainvillea or barberry bushes under windows, sending would-be thieves a sharp message to go elsewhere.

    July 25, 2014

  • 7-26 YARD OF THE WEEK.jpg Ganns earn Yard of the Week honors

    This week’s “Edmond Yard of the Week” winner has been in existence for 44 years at 105 Barbara Drive, but looks fresh and new thanks to longtime residents Betty and Gordon Gann as they fill their garden spaces to overflowing with colors and textures.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Discard the boredom of family game night

    We’re all about families having fun together, and game night is one of the best ways to do that. But playing the same games over and over can get a little stale. So in the interests of injecting a little more fun into your family’s game night, here are some great choices that will keep you and yours engaged and laughing.

    July 25, 2014

  • What’s normal age for voice change?

    Q: When is it normal for a boy’s voice to change? My son is 10, and his voice is getting deeper every day.
    A.: “It’s a very variable process,” says pediatrician Bonnie Miller, associate director of general pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.. “Puberty will begin as early as age 9. Generally with the advent of puberty, the voice box changes.”

    July 25, 2014

  • IMG_2996.JPG Krazy Daze hits downtown Edmond

    Newly transplanted Edmond residents Hannah Brenning, Cheyenne Middle School 8th grader; Jordan Brenning, Cross Timbers 4th grader; and Sydney Brenning, North High School freshman; check out the items in front of Sterling's in downtown Edmond during the Krazy Daze Sale lasting through Saturday. Businesses will open their doors at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Living history presented at metropolitan libraries

    Hear stories of pace setting women in different eras throughout history. Biographies of Wild West trailblazers, The Harvey Girls, WWII assembly line champion-Rosie the Riveter, mail order bride Mary Elizabeth Walker, and Oklahoma society lady Stella Louise Wilson-Johnson will be reenacted by gifted and prolific storyteller Barbara Byrd.
    Stella Louise Wilson-Johnson was the wife of a prominent Guthrie attorney who shares her experiences and adventures during the early days of Oklahoma statehood. Her presentation will be at 7 p.m. Monday, July 28, Edmond Library, 10 S. Boulevard. For more information, visit www.metrolibrary.org

    July 25, 2014

  • Preparing for a fall home garden

    Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.  
    The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.

    July 24, 2014

  • Fall gardening season has arrived

    Even though the temperature is hot and there are still summer vacations on the calendar, it is time to start thinking about planting your fall garden.
    Most Oklahoma gardeners are still reaping the rewards of their spring gardens, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist, but it is not too early to plan for fall gardening crops.

    July 23, 2014