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Finding wine flaws

The presence of a flaw or fault in a wine makes it either unpleasant or undrinkable. Those characteristics are often caused by poor storage or winemaking practices. When tasting wine there is a difference between a wine flaw and a wine fault that should be taken into account.

A flaw is a minor attribute that can sometimes be considered as normal depending on the consumer. However, a fault is something that makes a wine either unpleasant or undrinkable for any wine consumers. Below is a list of common wine flaws and faults.

Cork taint
Characterised by a musty, mushroom or earthy aroma and taste, cork taint commonly happens in wine bottles that have been sealed with an infected cork. It is easily detected in whites and sparkling wines but may seem a natural characteristic in some red wines.

Oxidised wines can be recognised by a dark yellow colour in young and un-oaked white wines and a brownish hue in reds. The aroma and flavour of an oxidised wine is flat and dull, and in the worst cases, vinegar notes can be detected.

Sulphur dioxide
Burnt matches smell is detected in wines that have been overly sulphured. However, when the wine is exposed to air for a while, it clears up.

The presence of sediments happens naturally in red wine bottles designed to withstand some ageing. Signs of sediments in red wines should not be considered as a major wine fault as it happens when winemakers chose to do minimal to no filtration to their wines. The bottle should be poured slowly or decanted before serving.

White crystals
Also known as tartrates, these white crystals sometimes found at the bottom of a bottle or glass, if not slowly poured, are also natural sediments. They are not harmful and do not spoil the taste of the wine.

Any wine which is corked, oxidise or have sulphite notes should be returned to the nearest retailer as they are considered faulty – any of these faults are inacceptable. Regarding flaws, slightly over sulphured wines or the presence of sediments and crystals are usually acceptable as they can be issues that can easily be solved.

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