Wine Fault

Definition - What does Wine Fault mean?

Wine taint is the wine tasting term used to describe any unpleasant characteristics in wine. There are many different causes of wine taint, most, if not all, of which are naturally occurring in wine. In small doses, the causes of wine taint aren’t that bad; however in large doses, wine taint smothers aromas and flavors in wine, leading to wine spoilage.

WineFrog explains Wine Fault

There are many different, naturally occurring causes of wine taint, as well as several different types of wine taint. Each type of wine taint is identifiable through specific aromas and tastes.

Sulfides and Sulfur Compounds

Caused by a lack of amino acids in the fermenting wine, most commonly red wines, in small doses, sulfur adds complexity. Winemakers can avoid sulfur taint by adding Diammonium Phosphate during fermentation. Consumers can identify sulfur taint through the following smells:

  • Boiled eggs
  • Onion Garlic
  • Burned rubber
  • Tinned corn
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Oxidation

The most common wine fault especially in light bodied reds and white wines, oxidation occurs when there is a surplus of oxygen and catalyst in wine. Oxidization can even occur after a wine has been bottled. Consumers can identify oxidization through the following smells:

  • Sherry
  • Brown apple
  • Paper

Cork Taint

Though the misconception is that cork taint is common, it actually isn’t as common as it used to be. There are only a few main causes of cork taint, 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), Geosmin, Octenol and Methylisoborneol. Consumers can identify cork taint through the following smells:

  • Must
  • Earth
  • Mushroom
  • Compost

Heat Damage

Also known as cooked wine, this is caused when wine is exposed to intense heat that literally cooks the wine. Because heat damage can cause damage to the seal of a bottle, it is often combined with oxidization. Consumers can identify heat damage through the following characteristics: Jammy Sweet, but processed canned fruit.

UV Light Damage Also known as lightstrike, this is caused when wine gets too much sun or UV exposure. Most commonly found in delicate white wines, like Champagne, Viognier and Chenin Blanc. Consumers can identify it by the taste and smell of wet sweater. Mousy Taint Attributed to Brettanomyces, mousy taint can also be caused by the lactic acid bacteria in Malolactic fermentation. Not a volatile taint, it’s difficult to identify through aroma alone, but it is apparent on the palate and in the back of the mouth in the form of mouse, mouse cage or mouth urine.

Secondary Fermentation or Refermentation

When there is residual yeasts left in the wine when it was bottled, it can cause an unintentional secondary fermentation in the bottle. This results in a slightly fizzy sensation in the mouth. When the fizz is intentional, the wine will be labeled as "frizzante" or "sparkling".

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