Common Wine Faults, Signs and Preventions


Someone gave you a glass of wine. Stick your nose on a glass, what do you smell? The aroma must be floral, spicy or fruity most of the time. All the pleasant aroma that you could smell in your glass of wine. But what if one time, it smells like a nail polish remover, a rotten egg or barnyard? What if the wine that you are about to drink has a little dirty secret?

At some point, every winemaker will experience failures in making their wines despite of so much effort that they put to keep the wine as its best. There will be a time that small portion of it will develop a commercially unacceptable aroma. Some wines in the market contained flawed and faulty juice that developed along the way in winery, or even after bottling, during the process of transferring or shipping, or storage of the market or restaurant location or even at your home. There are requirements that should met before storing your wines in a specific area such as the temperature, the environment and even the vibration. Also, too much amount of chemicals will result to scrap wines.


The common cause of wine faults are Oxidation of alcohol, which losses the freshness and the fruit component of wine. This oxidation can be identified by means of nose. It smells like Sherry. Also by just looking on it, you can identify that there is something wrong on your wine, red coloured wines turn brick-red or brown, and whites darken to amber-gold. This too much oxidation can be prevented by not exposing your wine too much in air.

Cork Taint

Cork Taint or known as corked. This cork taint is a musty, dunk fungal smell, caused by 2,4,6 trichloranisole (TCA) that has affinity for cork. TCA forms when natural fungi come into contact with chlorophenols in plant. To be able to spot this, you have to use your sense of smell. Try to smell your wine, and if it smells like a musty newspaper, wet cardboard or mouldy basement, then this wine is corked.

Sulfur Dioxide

Another fault is the Sulphur Dioxide which is an important component in making wines to prevent the microbes and bacteria from spreading. This sulphur sometimes may causes bad production. When so much sulphur dioxide added in the wine, it will result to sharp and pungent smell. The amount of sulphur should be controlled to avoid this problem in your wine.


The flip side of oxidation can also be the cause of faults in wine. This fault is called reduction. The wine hasn’t gotten enough exposure to oxygen during its production due to wine-making techniques to reduce the oxidation. You can identify this by smelling your wine, it gives off an odour of smell, like burnt rubber or rotten eggs. Enough exposure from air will save your wine from having this wine fault, but not too much exposure.

Heat Damage

Overheating of wine will result to fault, and this is what we call cooked. This can be caused by a number of factors like putting in a storage room in 80 degrees temperature. The smell of overheat wine is jammy: sort of sweet, but processed. You can prevent this to happen if you will going to store your wines in 55 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.

Volatile Acid or popular as VA naturally present in wine. It contributes to the freshness, balance and bottle ageing. However, once this component is added too much in the wine, it will produce a nail vanish smell and vinegar taste. Enough amount of this component will prevent you from having a fault in your wine.

Photo source derekGavey

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • BuzzedAldrin May 22, 2015, 9:03 am

    Cork taint can mostly be eliminated by using synthetic corks, which I’m pleased to say now come on many bottles. However, many vintners are refusing to adopt them as they fear they could be seen as ‘cheap’ or untraditional. Synthetic corks also create a better seal. They aren’t the best choice for wines that get better with aging, of which most fine wines will, but for simple wines you would share with friends or drink as a nightcap, they have almost no impact on the drinking experience.

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