Thursday, November 7, 2013

Terrace View - My Wine is Bad! What to do?

So you arrive home with your newly purchased bottle of wine, pull the cork or twist off the cap, pour a little in your wine glass (which is completely clean and dry, of course!), swirl, have a whiff and a sip and then... ooh my... you think "something's wrong with this, what do I do?"

Well, you can call us, the number of course is 718-768-2291, and we can give you some info. If you have the energy, you can put your shoes back on and return the bottle. We will pretty much always exchange the bottle for you, excepting some special circumstances. You just need to return the bottle and the wine to us if you think it is off, sorry as we can't do exchanges for empty bottles.

In a practical sense it's also good to know what can go bad with a bottle of wine so here are some of the things that can happen.

The wine is corked - It's true, a small percentage of wines are ruined by a chemical in the cork called TCA. If this happens there will be a smell akin to old, wet, musty cardboard. What to do? Return the wine to us and we'll give you another bottle. Another bottle from the same case is usually works out just fine. You don't even have to return it right away, in the next few days is okay but if you wait awhile it's good to have a receipt with you because we might not remember the original sale.

Reduction - This happens to a wine which has been for a long time in an environment that has an absence of oxygen. The best way I can describe a reductive smell is that it comes off as dirty and excessively sulfurous, like a mineral spring, or burnt rubber. What to do? In many cases the reduction is just in the nose and the problem is solved by oxygen so either decant the wine or pour a decent amount into a few glasses, swirl vigorously, and wait 15 to 20 minutes to see if the smell goes away. If the wine is severely reductive the palate will be affected as well so if the wine doesn't smell and taste better after some time and you are unhappy, return the wine to us. 

Volatile Acidity - Called "VA", it's caused by bacteria in the wine creating acetic acid. This is a normal part of fermentation and we notice VA when it's excessive in a wine. For VA you can think acetone, so the aromas are similar to shoe polish or nail polish remover. What to do? Unlike the two previous conditions, aeration or exchanging one bottle for another won't solve the problem, all the wines from that bottling production will have VA. It's subjective and kind of a personal threshold thing, one person may really dislike the wine and another may think it's interesting. I don't think we consistently sell any wines that have excessive VA so it's not a big problem, although you may encounter one at some other shop or restaurant.

One more thing, remember my joke in the beginning about your wine glass being completely clean and dry? There's truth here. If your glasses have been sitting in your cabinet for a long time they will pick up a "cabinet smell" which will ruin the nose of your wine. You might think those stems are clean but they are not. Before using a glass, give it a quick whiff, it should have no aroma. If it does you can quickly clean the glass with dish soap and rinse with hot water. Remember to let the glasses cool before you use them. Alternately, if the glasses are relatively clean, just leave them out on the counter until there is no odor.

I hope all this helps!

Cheers,
Michael

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