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Good vs Bad Wine?

Corked Wine

With so much technology available to wine makers today it is easier for them to make even the most ordinary wine taste pleasant and ideal for everyday enjoyment. However in the case of ‘real wine’, in other words not the mass produced brands but the more special wines crafted by individual producers and where nature plays a greater part in its creation, occasionally things can go wrong!

What is a good wine?

A good wine needs to have a balance of flavour and texture, a feel in the mouth that there is substance to the wine, this is called ‘body’ The flavours should linger and last when tasting, known as ‘length’ and then it should have a combination of subtle flavours that with tasting experience you will come to recognise, this we can call the ‘character’.

So if all these are in place and the wine tastes as it should displaying all these qualities, then we have what we call a ‘good wine’.

What is a bad wine?

We can only distinguish between good and bad in most cases by pouring the wine into a clean and clear glass and begin the process of ‘tasting’.

The first will be the appearance, followed by the ‘nose’ and then the taste. If a wine is cloudy or discoloured and has lost its aromas, then it has maybe been exposed to oxygen. This could be because of bad storage, a loose or badly fitting cork, or if it has been open for a few days.

If the wine tastes like vinegar then it has been subject to a bacterial infection, this is not to be confused with wines of high acidity such as some of the Chenin Blanc wines, this is a natural part of the character of the grape variety, style and region of origin. Vinegar tasting wine is just that, sour, unpleasant and only good for your chips!

When is a wine corked?

‘Corked Wine’ is something totally different and does not mean that there are bits of cork floating in your glass! This is a common and complete misunderstanding of the term.

Corked wine is probably one of the most common faults and is caused by a cork that has been affected by fungus and then coming into contact with the wine. The result is a strong musty smell similar to that of wet cardboard. If this aroma is faint then the process may be in its early stages and difficult to identify, but if this is the case and you are not certain, then take it back to your supplier to make sure.

Other signs that you may not be certain of, but do not necessarily affect quality, are ‘mould on the outside of the cork’ – this could be because the wine is aged and cellared for some time in humid conditions. It is very unlikely that the wine inside the bottle will have been affected.

Also fine crystals in wine only mean that particles of tartaric acid have formed but this will not adversely affect the taste. You can always decant the wine to remove them if the appearance is off-putting.

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