A Lesson in Wine Faults

JunesWine

We are continuing to work our way through my sister-in-law’s red wine collection, opening a bottle of California Syrah from 1999. Just as the 1998 Rombauer Merlot that I recently wrote about, the aging of this wine has produced a lot of sediment. My husband is less put off with it this time, since filtering it through a coffee filter worked so well last time.

We struggle with a dried out cork and pour the wine over a coffee filter and into a decanter. The Syrah is inkier than the Rombauer Merlot was but shows a brick color when held up to the light. In the glass, we begin to notice an odd smell. Even though the Rombauer was not in its full glory, the nose was still gently fruity. The smell of this Syrah reminds me of a musty basement.

Referring to Wikipedia, it seems we have a case of cork taint, the presence of chemical compounds that usually come from the cork. Corked wine is described as having a “characteristic odor, variously described as resembling a moldy newspaper, wet dog, damp cloth, or damp basement.” For my own knowledge, I’d like to know first-hand what corked wine tastes like and Wikipedia says that it’s not harmful to ingest, so here goes. I bravely take a small sip and notice a very astringent taste. Not vinegar, but highly acidic. The fruit flavors are gone and in their place is an alcoholic heat similar to a distilled spirit.

The sacrifice in the name of science having been made, we move on to another bottle.

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