Yet Another Hard Lesson on Wine Gone Bad

Oxidized White Wine.jpg

On a trip to wine country earlier this year, I picked up several bottles of wine. Included in my wines was a Reserve Chardonnay that I had gotten in Alexander Valley.  In the tasting room it was excellent.

After purchasing the wines, I was very careful to control their temperature by not leaving them in the car or exposing them to significant sunlight. And, while on the road, the wines always spend the night in the cool hotel room, not the car.  Once home, the wines were moved either to cool, dark closets or to the wine refrigerator (always need a bigger wine refrig!) where they are stored on their side with the cork slightly down.

For a recent dinner, I brought out the slightly chilled Reserve Chardonnay, pulled the cork and poured a glass.  I immediately noticed the color of the Chardonnay. Instead of the usual pale straw color (like the one on the left in the photo), this wine was golden-brown in color (like the one on the right in the photo). That seemed really odd.  I then took a sniff. The aroma was not that of a fruity, tropical Chardonnay. It was noticeably off. I went back to examine the cork (a natural cork) and found the issue.  The cork was completely soaked all the way through.  It had leaked and air had gotten into my Reserve Chardonnay. Ruined.

I didn't have to taste it. I already knew from the golden-brown color, the odd aroma and the soaked cork that this wine had gone bad. But, just to complete my experience, I did taste the wine. As expected, it had a very nutty (oxidized) flavor. A real let down since it was so good in tasting room.

I believe that I did everything properly on the handling and storage of this wine that I just purchased a few months ago. I just got ahold of a bottle with where the cork did not properly do its job. 

It's always such a shame to buy a really nice bottle of wine only to find that its gone bad. So, if your wine has an unusual color, odd aroma and/or a nutty taste, you'll know it's not just a bad wine, it's a wine that's gone bad.

Here's to finding lots of great bottles of wine in your future! Cheers!

How to Know If Your Wine Has Gone Bad

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine, poured a glass, taken a sip, and then asked yourself "Has this wine gone bad?"  Sometimes a defective wine is hard to establish, but other times there is no question that the bottle has gone bad.

Last week I went to one of those 'big box' wine stores to pick up a few bottles of wine. Among them was a rosé for the Valentine's Day weekend. The rosé was produced by a reputable California winery that I've purchased from previously. I brought it home and chilled it. When I took it out to serve, I noticed that as I poured it, there were definite orange and brown hues to the ordinarily pink rosé. This was my first clue. Then, upon taking my first sip I noticed it had a nutty flavor and other odd flavors that I would not associate with a fresh, fruity rosé. I immediately wondered if the bottle's seal was bad. But it looked fine. I then looked at the label.  This was my final clue.  And, shame on me for not noticing in the store, but the rosés vintage date was 2012. This was a three-plus year old bottle of rosé. That was the primary issue. It was too old. And, who knows how it had been stored over those three-plus years.  But nonetheless, the wine had gone bad.

So, shame on me. I should have paid more attention to the date on the bottle in the store. With rosé's and white wines, they are best consumed young, within a couple of years of their vintage date, if stored properly. But, also shame on the wine seller. They should have better control on their inventory and know when something on their shelf is too old.

In this case, the thing to do is to take your receipt and the bottle back to the store where you purchased it. Any reputable wine seller (even a grocery store) should refund your money on a bad bottle.

In future postings I'll address how long you should keep a wine and why some wines age better than others.  And, you may be surprised at the aging recommendations for most wines.  For now, hoping all your wines are good ones! Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week - Bear Boat Russian River Pinot Noir ($18)

A really nice Pinot Noir. It has flavors of cherries, raspberries and cola. This is a delicate Pinot Noir that can be enjoyed with most foods, but pairs really well with salmon.