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Wine and Champagne
Red Wine

How does wine spoil?


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February 26, 2008 6:25PM

This can happen in a number of ways: Oxidisation - where the wine ages too much. The wine will look brown, very few fruity flavours will be evident. This can be a result of too much air getting into the bottle in a short period of time (eg from a faulty cork) or a wine being kept too long and too much air getting into the bottle over a long period of time. Lightstrike - when a bottle is exposed to light for a prolonged period of time. Especially bad for clear, colourless bottles. The wine tastes dull. Cooked wine - when a wine bottle is exposed to too much heat. Again, fruitless wine, sometimes with a hint of brown colouring to it. Corked wine - when a wine reacts with a chemical called TCA (trichloroanisole) in the cork. The wine smells something like wet cardboard. Can be hard to diagnose, because wines can be corked to a different degree. This time is sometimes overused to include all faults in a wine. Brett (brettanomyces) - a type of yeast, generally resulting from lack of hygiene... a dirty bottle, for example. It doesn't take much dirt for this to happen either. The result is a wine with "mousey" flavours and odours. Not very pleasant. Volatile acidity (VA) - also the result of bad hygiene, especially dirty bottles. You'll get the smell of rotten egg gas or intense sulfur coming from the wine. Sulfur issues - wines can have excess sulfur dioxide added (a preservative, necessary for keeping the wine for a few years). Sometimes when a wine is opened (particularly those under screwcap), excess sulfur can waft off the top of the wine. However, this will disappear over time and the fruit flavours of the wine will shine through. Decanting can help this immensely. This is the only one of the wine faults on this page that can be fixed by the consumer. The rest are permanent changes to the wine.