Amber True
April 21, 2017 | De Tierra Blog | Amber True

Wine Flaws VS. Wine Faults

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a wine fault and a flaw is? Maybe the idea hasn’t crossed your mind? Well, I am here to tell you there is a difference between the two!


A wine FLAW can be anything that creates a different flavor or aroma in your wine that is not a usual characteristic for that varietal. Another way to think about flaws is that they can be enjoyable. For example: you've tasted a wine that has an earthy aroma that you’ve never smelled before, and you ended up liking it. Come to find out the wine you liked so much has Brett (I’ll explain what this is a little farther down). This is completely different than a fault. 


A wine FAULT can be anything that makes your wine undrinkable. A range of many reasons can cause faults in wine, but the key point is that you wouldn’t want to drink the wine. Have you ever been excited to open up a fresh bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion and to your disappointment the wine and/or cork smells really funky. The cork may look weird and smell like wet cardboard or wet dog, making the wine very much undrinkable. This could mean that your wine is corked a.k.a has T.C.A. Faults can ruin your wine, so it's important to know how to detect them. 

So what are some wine flaws and faults to look out for?

T.C.A: (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole) This is a fault, also known as cork taint. TCA is a chemical compound that somehow infected the cork in a single bottle of wine. It can also infect oak barrels and then ruin more than just one bottle. A corked wine can smell like wet cardboard, wet dog, and moldy. Due to higher quality corks and clean winery practices there has been a decline in bottles found to have cork taint in the last couple years. If you find a bottle that smells of TCA, take it back. Most wineries will understand, as it isn’t your fault.


Oxidized: In high dosages, this is can be a fault. In low dosages, this can be a flaw.  Oxidation is a chemical reaction that happens in your bottle of wine. This can be done in multiple ways. If you leave your bottle of wine open for maybe 5-7 days (3 days is max for me personally) it will become oxidized. To put it simply, your wine is getting too much oxygen and in return causes the wine to taste dull, less fruity, stale, and sometimes nutty. A red wine will look more brick colored and a white will turn gold. Watch out the next time you order a glass of wine at a restaurant, they sometimes leave their bottles open for awhile if enough people aren’t ordering it by the glass. 


Heat Damage/Lightstrike: Heat damage can be an issue for people living in warmer areas. If you leave your wine in high heat for too long (more than a few hours) it can be ruined. Anna Russell says “Never leave your wine in your car longer than you would leave your dog or kid in the car.” In the wine faults class I recreated a Lightstrike fault wine where I left it under a UV light for only 2-3 hours and the wine after was very undrinkable. In other words, be careful where you place your bottles; try to avoid direct UV light. A wine that has heat damage can smell like its burnt or toasted and taste like cooked fruit. A good indicator that the wine probably has been exposed to excessive heat or UV light is the cork looking like its moving its way out of the bottle.


TDN: (1,1,6,-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronapthalene) This is a chemical compound found in certain varietals, typically Riesling. Ever had a wine that smelled like petroleum? That is TDN. Again, the dosage makes the poison. If the wine has a hint of petrol it can be a flaw to some people, but too much TDN and it becomes a fault. The level of TDN is brought out by sunlight and becomes more prominent as the wine ages. The petrol smell is said to be appreciated in Germany because TDN is parallel to a warm season in the vineyard.


These are just a few flaws and faults, but some of the more common ones you might encounter. There are so many out there so I encourage you to do some research of your own! 


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