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Wine Faults – How to Identify Them.

Wine FaultsWine Faults

Every day, all over the world, faulty wines are sold to unsuspecting restaurant guests. Upon sipping the wine most know that the wine is unpalatable, but cannot identify the fault, and are too timid to reject it!

If the wine is unpalatable due to inappropriate storage, too long cellaring, and other chemical faults, it is the consumer’s right to send it back. It helps a great deal when you can clearly state that the wine is oxidized, contains volatile acidity, is “corked”, bacterially contaminated, poorly stored, overly sulphured or affected by brettanomyces.

Oxidized red wines have a brackish, red-brown colour, smell of acetone and display a dull texture. You can identify such wines while pouring. White wines will acquire a brown colour.

VA stands for volatile acidity, i.e vinegar. Wines that that were exposed to acetic acid during bottling may show this fault. It is relatively easy top identify.

“corked” wines smell of wet cardboard. It is also called TCA (trichloranisol) and prevalent only in wines with cork enclosure. The rate of corked wines is estimated to be between 6 – 8 per cent.

Bacterial contamination makes a wine smell of rotten eggs, rancid butter and/or sauerkraut.

Poorly stored and/or transported wines, those stored in cellars that are too hot, or were transported in containers exposed to extreme heat in some instances also to freezing temperatures. Such wines smell “baked” or smell of caramel.

Sulphur smells indicate that the wine has been treated with additional sulphur in an attempt to preserve it. Sweet wines may smell of sulphur, and in some instances dry white wines from European sources.

Brettanomyces a.k.a brett is cause by spoilage yeasts that may be embedded in cooperage or in the cellar. The wines smell “mousy”, not fresh, appetizing, fruity, and appealing. Brett is sensitive to sulphur, the reason why winemakers add sulphur to the wine, especially for export trade.

Some wine faults can be smelled, others tasted, and yet others are visible.
A knowledgeable consumer always wins a debate, should a server attempt to maintain that the wine is fine.

Hrayr Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?

Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.

Wine Faults


  1. We hope that, restaurant owner will be more responsible of what they’ve serve to their customer especially the wine.

    Tomato Factory Planter

  2. My wife once accepted an oxidized bottle of wine and asked me to check. And there was no doubt that the wine was no good. We had to discuss with the owner because he stated that my wife had accepted first: unbelievable.

  3. We have a local winery and as the season winds down we have had experienced the vinegar taste. It is uncomfortable to send back the wine, but you expect some level of quality when you shell out the money. I looked around and wondered how many others were dissatisfied with the wine, but drank it anyway.
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