Something Tastes Funny

Woman Tastes a Glass of Wine

In an ideal world, every wine would be fermented to absolute perfection and you would never have to worry about uncorking a musty or feral bottle right before a dinner party. While reality might not be that simple, the good news is that there are some easy tricks for identifying flaws in wine. Columbia Distributing breaks down some simple strategies to help you recognize wine faults so that you can expertly choose the best bottles in time for your next big event.

Mature Vs. Out To Pasture

It’s a common misconception that the older the wine is, the better it will taste. The truth is that most wines are only made to age a few years. Some wines continue to age well after many years, but storage conditions play a huge role in wine’s staying power. This particular fault is a little subjective. For example, some people prefer what a long aging process does for Bordeaux, but not a Merlot.

The easiest way to identify a wine that has aged beyond perfection is to take a look at the date on the bottle. If it’s a very old wine, you might have a delightful, full taste to look forward to, but there’s also a chance it was stored in sub-optimal conditions. Selecting wine from a reputable distributor that puts thought and care into the storage of their wines gives you the best shot at selecting a winner.

Oxidation is Not Your Friend

Oxidation is one of the most common issues with wine. This chemical process can start during any step of the winemaking and bottling process. It also begins as soon as the bottle has been opened. Red wines that have experienced oxidation have a distinct orange tint that you can see when you hold the bottle up to a light source. White wines take on a brownish hue if too much oxygen has been introduced.

If you are out for a tasting, it’s always smart to ask the sommelier when he or she opened the bottle. When buying off the shelf, remember that packaging is hugely important to the quality of the wine. Boxed wines and bagged wines do not last nearly as long as bottled wines due to a high oxygen exchange rate. If you’re looking for top quality, it’s always best to start with a bottle or a can.

Cork Failure

Have you ever picked up a bottle of wine at the store and smelled mothballs or old, wet paper? That’s likely TCA, which stands for 2,4,6-trichloroanisole. TCA is a chemical that develops when the plant phenols in the tree-based cork closure mix with chlorine, which is a commonly used sterilizer. This process is called cork taint, and it is one of the easiest-to-identify faults because you can take a quick sniff of the top of the bottle to determine if there is a problem. If you smell something off, chances are you won’t like the taste.

Choosing Wine Wisely

Now that you are aware of some of the more common wine faults, you can select your next bottle with confidence. Columbia Distributing carries products from many brands that have devoted countless hours to properly creating, bottling, and storing delicious wines. Contact us today to learn more about how we ensure fault-free wines and get more information about the rest of our offerings, including spirits, beer, and nonalcoholic beverages.