Send back the bad wine

Dear Wine Ladies,

Last weekend at one of our favorite restaurants, we ordered a bottle of wine that we’re very familiar with. We felt a little awkward sending it back, but did it anyways. The server was fine with it but afterward we wondered what could have been the reason the wine tasted so badly. Does it have to do with the cork?

Thomas

Dear Thomas,

Kudos to you for returning the wine and kudos to the restaurant for graciously taking it back. As for the reasons why a wine may go bad, or taste a little off, it can usually be attributed to either cork taint, as you mentioned or oxidation.

Some estimates are actually as high as 8% of all wines being affected by cork taint, which results in a wine being void of any fruit on the nose, and having a wet cardboard or moldy type of smell. Cork taint is caused by a number of compounds, with TCA (trichloroanisole) being the most significant. If a wine is oxidized, having been exposed to too much oxygen, the wine will have lost its fruit smell and taste. This will be replaced with a stale odour, or sometimes as odour that might even remind you a little of Sherry. This fault can also result in the wine losing its intensity of color and/or turning a little brownish for the reds and yellowish for the whites.

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