Thursday, April 24, 2008

When Good Wine Goes Bad

Rather than going to the Wine 101 class I decided to go to Ingleside Vineyards with one of my friends. I didn't want to drive all the way to Richmond again since I had just been there a few days before, and my friend Rachael needed to trade in a bottle of wine that didn't taste right. Of course, silly me, I seemed to have lost my tasting notes. So instead of writing about my visit (I plan on going back, of course!) I thought it would be interesting to do a little research about wine going bad.

I mean, how do you know if a wine doesn't taste right if you've never had it before? Maybe you ate or drank something before trying it and that's why it tastes funny. Maybe it's been stored for too long. Maybe it's just bad wine. How do you know?

I mean, we’ve all come home late one night in hopes of one glass of wine before going to bed, only to realize that the open bottle is pretty close to becoming vinegar. Sometimes you go for it and hope for the best, other times your eyes grow misty as you pour the wine down the drain, kicking yourself for not remembering to put in the wine saver (oh, the hours we could have spent together my sweet shiraz!). This is an instance where there’s no mistaken that the wine has turned.

The other night I had just gotten off work and went over to my friend's house for a little girls’ night. We had been sipping on a semi-sweet white when it started to look like we would need another bottle opened pretty soon. Rachael opened her bottle of Rosato di Sangiovese from Ingleside. When she opened it she thought the cork had a musty smell to it, so we both tried it and thought it tasted a bit moldy. Now I couldn't remember if I had tried this wine before, but I've never had anything from Ingleside that I didn't enjoy. We thought maybe something was wrong with the cork, but we couldn't tell. This, of course, is what spurred our trip out to Ingleside (that and the opportunity to spend an afternoon tasting wine).

After the tasting, we asked one of the employees if they would mind checking the wine for us. This being a day or two after we tried it, the smell wasn't quite so strong and the taste had gone from being moldy to reminding me of damp wood... still not something I would drink but less acrid. The employees did a side by side comparison and sure enough we were right. Rachael was given another bottle and every body was happy.

They mentioned something about the wine being "corked." I did a search to see what the actual term meant and came across a website that explained all sorts of issues you can have with wine you’ve purchased. Basically corked wine is caused by a bacteria in the cork that only affects the bottle and is harmless if you drink the wine, you may just have to let it breathe a bit to let out the mustiness. So we could have kept the wine to drink, but of course it would not have been as enjoyable as a fresh bottle would be.

So next time you’re trying a new wine and it doesn’t taste quite right, check this website out: It just might be a problem with the bottle.

-Wine Chic

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