Tasting wine is about detecting a range of flavors, and not all flavors are good. Some can even signal a defect in the wine. Do you know what they are and what they mean? Here’s a list to test your know-how.
True or False? A wine is flawed if it smells like:
C) Wet, musty cardboard
D) Cat urine
E) Rotten eggs
G) Nail polish
Here’s the ANSWER KEY with some brief explanations to boost your Wine IQ.
A) True. The smell of Band-Aids is considered a flaw when it’s excessive. It’s caused by temperamental wild yeasts known as Brettanomyces often referred to as Brett. One caveat: Some Brett enhances a Burgundy.
B) False. The smell of barnyard isn’t a flaw and it’s a beloved aroma in many pinot noirs.
C) True. The smell of wet, musty cardboard is a flaw. TCA is primarily responsible for cork taint. For the curious, TCA is the chemical structure 2 4 6-trichloroanisole.
D) False. The smell of cat urine isn’t a flaw and some consider it a lovely aroma in sauvignon blanc, particularly one produced in New Zealand.
E) True. The smell of rotten eggs is a flaw. It’s caused by volatile sulfur compounds.
F) False. Many consider the smell of petroleum a lovely aroma in older rieslings.
G) True. The smell of nail polish is a flaw. It’s caused by volatile acidity.
Whatever your score, this is a start on how to detect a range of flaws in wine. What’s more, when you come across a flaw in a restaurant you’ll feel confident enough to ask the sommelier to uncork a second bottle.
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5310.