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Common wine ‘flaws’ and wine faults – a guide

Like Marmite, we might have to agree to disagree when it comes to our own tolerance for wine faults. Either way, love them or hate them, it’s useful to know more about the ‘flaws’ you may encounter, says Natasha Hughes MW

Back in the early 1990s, an awful lot of column inches were devoted to discussing the tiny mole situated above supermodel Cindy Crawford’s lip. Many believed that this tiny flaw elevated Crawford beyond mere prettiness and into the realm of the truly striking. As it is with supermodels, so it is with wine.

Over the course of the past couple of decades, thanks in large part to a growing awareness of the science required for precision viticulture and vinification, squeaky-clean wines are now produced on a consistent basis. But while technical perfection has become the new norm, a growing number of wine lovers have come to believe that these wines are utterly soulless.

Flawlessness is dismissed in favour of wines this group might describe as having character – but which others believe to be actively faulty. Tolerance levels are dictated, in part, by individual sensitivity to particular molecules, but in some cases ideological factors have a part to play as well. (The battle is at its peak when the words ‘natural wine’ are invoked.) It all rather begs the question of where you draw your own personal line between fault, flaw and quirk of personality.

Whatever position you take on the issue, there is a widespread acknowledgement that there are four main ‘flaws’ that still occur with a fair degree of regularity and which some wine lovers believe have a contribution to make in terms of increasing a wine’s complexity.

Natasha Hughes MW is a freelance wine and food writer and consultant

Written by Natasha Hughes MW

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