Whether you’re an experienced sommelier or just starting to explore the world of wine, it is important to know how to tell if a bottle of wine has gone bad. One common issue with wine is cork taint, which occurs when a chemical compound called trichloroanisole (TCA) develops in the cork and seeps into the wine, making it taste off and unpleasant. Learning how to identify a corked wine will help ensure that you have the best experience possible.
The most obvious sign that your bottle of wine is corked is its taste. Corked wines will have an unusual ‘musty’ flavor that can be difficult to describe but easy to recognize upon tasting. It may also have a damp, cardboard-like aroma; some people even describe it as smelling like wet dog fur. If either of these descriptions sounds familiar, chances are your bottle has been affected by TCA.
Another way to determine if your bottle of wine is corked is by looking at its appearance. A good bottle should appear clear and bright; if it’s cloudy or murky, then there’s likely something wrong with the liquid inside. It should also smell fragrant and inviting; if it has an unpleasantly musty odor then again, there’s a chance that it’s been compromised by TCA in some way.
One final test you can do is what’s commonly known as the ‘fizz test’. This involves pouring yourself a glass of the suspected contaminated beverage and then quickly closing the bottle with your hand (or any other suitable object). If you feel carbonation on your hand after doing this—or hear fizzing coming from inside the bottle—then there’s no doubt about it: your wine has gone bad due to natural oxidation or bacterial contamination and should be discarded immediately.
In summary, knowing how to tell if a bottle of wine has gone bad is essential for anyone who enjoys sampling different varieties from time to time. As we’ve discussed above, one common issue with bottles of vino is cork taint—which occurs when trichloroanisole (TCA) develops in the cork and seeps into the liquid itself—and can be identified by both taste tests and appearance tests (as well as the ‘fizz test’ described above). So next time you uncork a new bottle of red or white, make sure you know how to spot signs that something isn’t quite right!