Wine tasting is not drinking. Although wine is made to drink and enjoy, there are also times when it has to be judged and assessed. Mastering the art of tasting is essential in order to get the most out of your wine drinking.
Spotting faulty wines
There are several wine faults. Most come from poor winemaking or from
defective materials, especially corks. Faults vary in intensity –
merely lessening the potential pleasure from a bottle, others
Not all tasters are equally sensitive to particular faults –
a corked wine in seconds, while others may pick up on too much
Corked – the wine smells and tastes musty and sour.
a fault in the cork whereby a chemical called TCA destroys the
Oxidised – a wine that has had too much contact with
It has a sherry-like smell. Oxidised white wine is curiously
dark in colour
for its age while red is abnormally brown for its age. All wines
oxidise as they get older. This is an essential part of the
However, some wines are prematurely old. This may be due to poor
of the grapes after they have been picked, faults in the
because the cork has provided an imperfect seal.
Over-sulphured – a wine that smells of burnt matches
a sour taste in the back of the throat. It will often leave you
foul headache the next morning. Sulphur dioxide is widely used
as a necessary
‘disinfectant’ in wine-making. Many winemakers now, however, try
as little sulphur as possible. Today sulphur levels are
lower than they were twenty or thirty years ago.
Hydrogen-sulphide – bad egg smells that come from
not paying sufficient attention during fermentation. Equally,
occur if the wine has not been racked adequately while it
Unclean barrels (‘barrel taint’) – can give wine an
musty taste which is often very similar to a corked wine.
any that are empty for a while, have to be kept scrupulously
avoid tainting the wine. Where possible winemakers prefer to
barrels full with wine.
Acetic acid – common to all wines. In excess it will
wine smell and taste vinegary.