Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

How to tell a wine’s gone bad

By Jessica Yadegaran
Tuesday, February 6th, 2007 at 11:06 am in Uncategorized.

I had an experience recently with a bad bottle of wine at a high-end restaurant. The wine was cooked, and thank goodness our waiter was level-headed enough to recognize the problem and replace the bottle immediately. If you get a waiter who’s a nonbeliever, simply put the glass under his or her nose for proof. If they’re really stubborn, have them taste it. But you really don’t have to. You can tell it’s gone bad by using your nose to look for the following:

1. A moldy smell. This is caused by an infection, and about five percent of wines have it. Tell the waiter it’s corked.

2. Flat. This is what happened to us. The wine was most likely overheated in the summer months (this was a small inland restaurant). Imagine what happens when you boil vegetables as opposed to steaming them. You cook the flavor right out. Tell the waiter it’s cooked. Wines that are dry yet smell like strong Sherry could also be cooked.

3. Rotten eggs. There is hydrogen sulphide in the wine, so it’s just a bad bottle. It never should’ve made it to the restaurant.

4. Wrong color. The reason you tilt the glass to the light or look at it against a white napkin? To check for consistency in the color. If the rim on a white wine is brown or the rim on a red wine is also brown or yellowish, it’s a goner.

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