How to Tell if Wine Has Gone Bad

You order a bottle of wine at a restaurant. The sommelier opens it, presents you with the cork, pours a bit of wine in your glass, and then waits for your reaction. Sommelier Jordan Salcito explains how to use this tableside ritual to tell if the wine you ordered is good, or if it’s gone bad in the bottle.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Jordan Salcito. You're watching Today, I'm going to talk about how to know when your wine is not a good wine. We all buy bottles, and most of the time they're delicious, but sometimes you have that one that isn't quite right. When you're opening your bottle, the first thing you want to look at and smell for is the cork. There is a fairly common flaw called cork taint. In fancy wine speak, we say TCA, and it basically smells like wet dog or rotten cardboard. So, you remove the cork. This is why when you order a bottle of wine in a restaurant and they bring you the cork, this is what it's for, for you to smell it and check that everything is okay. We're lucky here, it smells great, but if you have it and it does smell like wet cardboard, that's a sign that something may be wrong. Next, what you want to do, is you want to check the color. So, pour a glass of wine, and again, we're pretty lucky because this is, this is red with a little bit of a brick color, but that's normal for this grape. This is a Sangiovese grape, and what you want to do is you want to look at the wine, and if it looks, if it's a red wine and it looks really muddy and brown, or if it's a white wine and it looks way too old and sort of amber colored and rusty, you know something may be wrong with the wine. At that point, you want to smell it. So, when you're smelling a wine, you're going to be looking for a couple of things. If it's an oxidized wine like we were talking about with the white wine, looks sort of brown and amber color, you want to make sure that it still smells like fresh fruit. Otherwise, you know something may be wrong with the wine. Another thing, in fancy wine speak, we say volatile acidity, or VA, can also be a fault. That's where it smells like nail polish remover. So in that case, all hope is not lost. What you want to do is take your bottle of wine, decant it, let it breathe for about 10 minutes, come back to it and see how it's doing. A lot of times, anything that smells a little bit off with the wine will just blow right away as soon as it comes in contact with air, and then you can enjoy your glass of wine. I'm Jordan Salcito. Catch me again on

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