1. What is a Wine Fault
    2. Microbial Contamination/ Bacteria & Yeast
      1. Cork Taint
      2. Brettanomyces Bruxellensis
      3. Volatile Acidity
    3. Excessive Sulphur Dioxide
    4. Oxidation
    5. Reduction
    6. Maderization
    7. Other Sub Topics of Wine Evaluation-Faults Chapter
      1. Cooked Wine, Mousiness, Closed/ Dumb Phase, Bottle Variation, Travel Shock, Light Strike/ UV. Damage 



WINE TAINT- Compounds That Could Effect or Damage the Quality of the Wine. Taints Are Not Intrinsic to the Wine Itself and Come From a Foreign Origin.

WINE FAULT- Something Wrong, Specific Departure From Typicity. A Compound Present In a Wine That Becomes a Fault When it Becomes Over a Certain Threshold Level.

WINE FLAW- Something That’s Off With the Wine, a Slight Departure From Typicity.

  • Typicality/ Typicity- Quality and Character of Being Typical of a Grape Variety or Type or Wine Style.
  • Poor Vinicultural Practices or Storage Condition Leading to Wine Spoilage.
  • Many of the Faults That Have Plagued Wine Producers In Previous Decades and Centuries Have Been Reduced or Even Eradicated by More Sanitary Wine Making Practices.
  • Some Wine-Flaws Bring Complexity or Nuance to a Wine, But Wine-Faults Aren’t Open to Interpretation.
  • The First Thing to Assess When Smelling a Wine is to See if It’s Faulty. Types of Faults.
    • Visible Faults
    • Smellable Faults
    • Tastable Faults

This Wine Looks, Smells and Taste Clean and Free of Any Visual, Aromatic or Palate Faults.


  • Faulty Wine Was a Bigger Problem In the Past.  With Modernization and an Increased Biological Understanding About Wine the Number of Wine Faults That Plagued the Wine Industry In the Past is Diminishing.  What Isn’t Diminishing is the General Publics Perception of Wine Faults.  In the Past Wine-Faults Went Unnoticed and the Wine Was Consumed Blindly.  Now With the Mass Education of an Advancing Wine Culture the Consumer is Becoming Better at Spotting Wine-Faults and Becoming More Critical of the Wines They Consume.  This Has Resulted In the Perception That There Are More Wine-Faults.
  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY?  Unusual Wine Scents?”
    • Are There Some Scents In the Wine World That Are Coveted by One Persons Palate and Disgusted by Another Person?”
      • Cat Piss- Sauvignon Blanc From Marlborough
      • Sweaty Saddle- Chateauneuf-du-Pape
      • Manure/ Barnyard- Pinot Noir From Burgundy
      • Diesel/ Petrol- Riesling From Mosel
      • Roasted Animal- Syrah From Northern Rhone Valley
      • Band-Aid- Brettanomyces/ Chateau Musar
      • Tar- Nebbiolo From Barolo
      • Smoky- Zinfandel From Sonoma
      • Pencil Lead- Bordeaux Blend From St. Emillon

When Ever I Find a Faulty Wine I Want to Smell it to Be Able to Better Understand the Fault and Have the Ability to Them Out With Confidence.

  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY?  Can a Wine Be Too Clean, Lacking Character From Complexity of Minor Flaws?
    • Some Critic Complain or Point Out That Modern Wine Making Has Erased Flavor or Complexity Due to Faults.  Some Wine Lovers Prefer Wine That is Super Clean Free of Any Wine Fault or Flaws.
  • Measuring Wine-Fault Perceptions and Sensory Thresholds is Based On the Individual. Different Tasters Perceive Wine Faults Differently Depending On the Development of Their Palate, Olfactory System Their Ability to Gauge the Intensities of the Aromas and Flavors.  Some Odorants Have High Threshold Meaning at Any Amount In the Wine the Odor Will Smell Alright.  Some Odorants With Low Threshold Will Not Be an Issue In Small Amounts But Anything Greater Will Standout as a Fault In the Wine.
  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY?  Is the Ultimate Goal In the Wine World to Produce Wine That’s Free of Wine-Faults?”
    • Generally Wine Quality is Defined by an Absence of Faults. Unless the Wine Maker is Trying to Make a Stylistic Statement.


  • Wine is an Liquid High Enough In Alcolhol and Low Enough In PH. That Its Limited by the Number of Potential  Microorganisms That Can Effect it.  However Microbes Such as Bacteria & Yeast Are Two That Can Contaminate the Winery That Can Alter the Wine.
    • Visual Defects   |    Stuck Fermentation
    • Acetic Acid   |   Acetaldehyde
    • Ethyl Acetate   |   Sulfides
    • Volatile Phenols    |   Diacetyl


  • Cork Taint is Composed of Compounds
    • 2,4,6 Tricholraoanisole TCA.   |   4,4,6 Tribromoanisole TBA.
    • 2-Methylisoborneol MIB.   |   Octen-3-ol   |   Octen-3-one   |   Guaiacol   |   Geosmin
  • Chemical Containment Compound That Found Its Way Into the Bottle Somewhere Throughout the Production Process, Usually From an Oak Barrel or a Cork or Contaminated Glass or Wine Making Product or Atmostphere. This Leads to the Degradation of Cork by Fungus/ Bacteria.
  • Depending On Who You Talk to Percentage of Cork Taint In Bottles of Wine  is 1%- 7%.
  • Cork Taint Can Come From the Cork or Through the Cork.
  • Both Are Haloanisoles Containing Chlorine & Bromine Atoms.
  • Cork Taint Originally Comes From a Fungus That Grow On the Bark of Cork Oaks In the Iberian Peninsula.
  • There is a Relationship to Where the Cork is Grown and the Instance of TCA..
  • The Odor of a Cork Wine Doesn’t Dissipate With Air Exposure it Intensifies it.
  • There Are Levels or Degrees of Acceptable Cork Taint In Wine Depending On the Individual Sensibility, Although Undesirable Cork Taint is Harmless.
  • Cork Taint Effects All Wines Regardless of Quality Level or Price.
  • Cork Taint Descriptors Wet Newspaper, Musty, Moldy Cardboard, Damp Basement

TCA./ Cork Taint is Wet Newspaper, Sulphur is Wet Dog.


  • Non-Spore Forming Genus of Yeast In the Family Saccharomycetaceae and Often is Referred to as Brett.
  • Brettanomyces is a Rogue/ Wild Yeast, Not a Bacteria That Feeds Itself On a Number of Nutrients at Low Levels In Wine.  Under Certain Conditions Brett Can Alter Wine by Using Unfermented Sugars and Metabolize Them. In Very Large Quality Brettanmyces Can Impart Negative Flavors and Characteristic. Brettanomyces is Seen as Fault, But In Some Wine Makers Eyes Add a Little Brettanomyces Adds Character and In Moderation is Enticing In Some Wines.
  • By-Products= Esterases, Volatile Fatty Acids, Tetrahydropridines, Volatile Phenols.
  • Brettanomyces Likes High PH., Low Sulphur, Residual Sugar, and Is Tolerant to Alcohol, and Sulphur Dioxide. After Fermentation Brett Can Survive and Slowly Eat Away at Residual Sugar Left Behind by Choice or a Fermentation That Didn’t Run Itself Dry. As It Does This it Brett. Produces Volatile Phenols.
  • There’re 9 Different Species of Brett, But 2 Species Are More Prevalent, Although More Associated With Red Wine, it Has Been Know In White Wine.
  • Brett More Likely In High PH./ Low Acid Wine.
  • ~Etymology~ Brettanomyces is Greek For Brish, Meaning Fungus.
  • Preventing/ Avoiding Bret.- Don’t Let Bret. In, In the First Place. Ways to Get Bret.
    • Come In On Wine From Other Wineries.  Come In On Equipment
  • Dealing With Bret- The Best Way to Deal With Brettanomyces is to Completely Eradicating it Within a Winery.
    • It’s Difficult to Completely Eradicating Brettanomyces Within a Winery. Once Brett Gets Into the Winery’s Wood Infrastructure and Barrels It’s Difficult to Fully Eradicate Brett From a Winery.
    • Liberal Sulphur Use When Grape Get Harvested and Prior to Bottling, Sterile Filtration at Bottling.
    • If You Can’t Eliminate it, the Next Best Thing is to Limit Its Production of Its Off Odors.
    • Keep Wine In Barrel at Under 52°, This Won’t Eliminate it But Bret Won’t Spread at This Temperature.
    • You Can Filter Bret Out of a Wine Using Filter System.
  • History- 1904 @Ireland– First Detected by an Investigation at Carlsberg Brewery In Ireland Into Higher Incidents of Spoilage of British Ale.
    • Native Yeast to Sienne Valley, Belgium, and First Classified at the Carlsberg Brewery.
  • Brettanomyces is Composed of 3 Spoilage Compounds
    • 4-Ethyl-Phenol 4-EP. (Band-Aid, Farm-Yard, Horse-Stable), At Extreme Levels Can Smell of Manure.
    • 4-Ethylguaiacol 4-EG. (Gamey, Bacon, Spicy, Clove, Smoky)
    • 4-Ethycatechol 4-EC. (Cheese, Rancid)
    • -Brettanomyces Produces Volatile Phenols, Sulphites
  • Threshold Brett Becomes Noticeable In Wine: 200 MG./ L. Depending On the Freshness or Type of Red Wine.
  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY? Is One Persons Perception of Fault is Another Persons Complexity?”
    • Some Wine Drinker Have Been Drinking Wine From Wine Regions Where Brett is Present In the Wine In Small Amounts.  For This Regions and Consumers It’s Part of the Nuance of the Wine.  To Other Wine Drinkers Brett is a Fault and Even In the Smallest Amount It’s Considered Unacceptable.

VINICULTURE CHALLENGES– Hygiene is Very Important and the Growth of Brettanomyces Can Be Controlled In the Cellar With Proper Monitoring Tools and Use of Sulfur Dioxide and Wine Filtration Systems.

  • Brettanomyces Likes Dirty Crush Equipment, Barrels, Must Lines or Transfer Lines Not Cleaned Effectively.
  • Brettanomyces Descriptors Band-Aide, Animal, Leathery, Cheesy, Horsey, Barnyard, Medicinal, Stables, Sweat, Vinegar, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kombucha
    • Lebanon (Ghazir) Chateau Musar
    • Rioja
    • Northern Rhone


  • The Conversion of Ethanol Into Acetic Acid by the Bacteria Acetobacteia.
  • Acetic Acid Bacteria Ferments Ethanol and Produces Acetic Acid Which is Considered Volatile Acidity.
  • Volatile Acidity Requires Oxygen to Grow, When a Bottle of Wine is Opened Acids Start to Volatile at Room Temperature.
  • At Low Level it Lifts the Other Aroma In Wine But There Are Limit to How Much is Allowed In Wine. Volatile Acidity is Volatile and Drops Out of Wine Over Time.
  • Volatile Acids- Formic, Butyric, Propionic, Acetic Carbonic
  • The Best Way to Avoid Volatile Acidity is to Minimize Oxygen Contact, Either by Ingress Through the Cork In a Closed Bottle or by Contact to a Wine In an Open Bottle.  Acetic Acid Which is the Factor That Leads to Volatile Acidity is Produced by the Oxygenic Break-Down of Ethanol.
  • Volatile Acidity In Wine is Usually From Lack of Detail by the Winemaker.  VA. Can be Avoided Through Conscious Wine Making.
  • Shouldn’t Be an Issue. Filtration Methods (Cross Flow/ Filtration Through Polyurthane Beads) Can Remove VA. Resulting In a Sound Wine.
  • Legal Limits For Volatile Acidity…White Wine…1.1 G./ L. Red Wine…1.2 G./ L.
  • Volatile Acidity Descriptors Balsamic Vinegar, Pickles, Dill, Nail Polish Paint Thinner
    Example– Poor Cellar Hygiene, Barrel Levels/ Ullage, Topping.

TURNING WINE INTO VINEGAR– The Process of Wine to Vinegar is a Two Step Process. First Acetobacteria Converts Ethanol Into Ethyl Acetate. Then Ethyl Acetate Oxidizes Into Acetic Acid. When This Begins the Vinegar Smell Becomes Prevalent.

  • Vinegar- +Acetic Acid Bacteria to Wine, Must Contain +6% Acid & -1.5% ABV.



  • Newly Uncorked Bottles Might Smell of Sulphur Because Ullage Space Was Injected With Sulphur Prior to Bottling.  Let Breathe For 10 Minutes and it Will Dissipate.
  • Wine Makers Add Sulphur Dioxide Prior to Fermentation to Kill-Off Microbes That Might Compromise Integrity of Wine as Well as Aromatic Changes Associated With Oxidation.
  • The Same is Done Before Bottling For Similar Reasons.
  • Excessive Sulphur Descriptors Wet Dog
    • Hydrogen Sulfide- Caused by Yeasts Fermenting Without Adequate Nitrogen Nutrient.
    • Dimethyl Sulfide-
    • Ethyl Mercaptan-
    • Methyl Mercaptan-

Sulphur is Wet Dog, TCA./ Cork Taint is Wet Newspaper.

ETHYL ACETATE Ester of Ethanol and Acetic Acid (Nail Polish Remover)


  • Contamination and Resulting Chemical Breakdown Caused by Too Much Oxygen Exposure. When Wine is Exposed to Air Oxygen In Air Reacts to the Wine. Aromas and Flavors Molecules Absorbs Oxygen Changing Characteristic and Structure of the Wine.
  • Oxidization is the Most Common Wine Fault and Can Be Characterized by Loss of Brightness In Color, and a General Reduction of Varietal Characteristics. White Wines Are More Susceptible Because of Their Lack of Phenolics and Tannins Which Help Preserve Wine. In Red Wine Oxygen Cause a Brick or Brownish Color. On the Palate Wines Losses Acidity, and Become Drier and Bitter, With Flavors of Bruised Apple, Walnut.
  • Everything Oxidizes, Often at Different Rates, Wine Oxidizes and at Different Rates Depending On the Current State of Its Lifecycle, and the Amount of Oxygen the Wine is Exposed to, and a Wines PH. or Acidity.
  • When Oxygen Reacts With Phenols In Grape Must or Juice it Follows Enzymatic Pathway Resulting In Phenolic Oxidation. (The Same as the Browning of an Apple After You Slice it and Expose it to Oxygen.)
    • Ethanolic Oxidation- The Oxidation of Ethanol
    • Chemical Oxidation-
    • Piphenols- Contain Two Phenolic Hydroxyl Groups…Flavonoids and Non-Flavoniods
    • Oxidation Descriptors Flat, Caramel Quality, Bruised Apple, Sherry, Stale
  • **Refer to VINICULTURE/ Fermentation For Detailed Information On Oxidation.
  • WINE & PHILOSOPHY? Serving Oxidized Wine?
    • (Contentious Wine Issue!)Is it Alright to Serve Noticeably Oxidized Wine Just Because It’s Produced by a Legendary Natural Wine Pioneer In Friuli, Italy Using Amphora?  On One Hand Under No Situation Should a Drastically Flawed Wine Be Served.  On the Other Hand Oxidized Wine is Fault But Also Can Be a Style of Wine That’s Not Appreciated by All Wine Consumers But Should Be Available For People to Consume. So In This Case It’s Alright to Serve This Wine as Long as Its Style is Discussed With the Customer Before Ordering.


  • Premature Oxidation is AKA=Premox or  Just Pox In the Wine World
  • Flaw That Happens In White Wines When Presumably Ageworthy Wine Which Was Stored Properly and Thought to Be In Excellent Condition is Found to Be Oxidized and Undrinkable. Most Whites Are Susceptible to Oxidation and is Relatively Common From 10 Years On But This Premature Oxidation Effects Which After a Few Years.  A Greater Occurrence of Premature Oxidation is Found In  Burgundy But Other Instances Have Been Found World Wide and Are Said to Be Random and the Exact Cause Remains Unclear.
    • Hypotheses Although There is No Definitive Explanation For Premox There is a Few Theories Going Around the Wine World.
      • Faulty Corks
      • The Modern Movement of Using Less or Insufficient Sulfur Dioxide/ So2 In Wines.


  • Scum Like, Naturally Occurring or Induced On Sherry, Grows and Floats On Surface, Preventing Oxidation.  Flor Can Occur Unwillingly But Generally Its a Wine Style and Not a Wine Fault.
    • Sherry GRAPES= Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, Muscadelle (Fino)   @Andulucia
    • Vin Jaune GRAPE=Savagnin   @Jura
    • Biezo- GRAPE= Mercia   @Castile & Leon
    • Oregon- GRAPE= Chardonnay   @Eola Amity
    • Hungary- (Szamorodni Szaraz)   @Tokaj
  • **Refer to SPAIN/ Sherry For Detailed Information On Sacchaomyces.

5) REDUCTION The Presence of Volatile Sulfur Compound

  • Reductive Compounds at Minimal Concentration at to the Wines Aroma, But at Higher Levels Are Considered to Be a Fault.
  • Wine Makers Must Protect Must, Juice and Wine From Oxygen, This Can Be Accomplished by Reductive or Anaerobic Wine Making (The absence Absence of Oxygen), or the Use of Sulfur.
  • Reduction Descriptors
  • **Refer to VINICULTURE/ Fermentation For Detailed Information On Reduction.

6) MADERIZATION Heat Damage From Excessive Heat Exposure.

  • When the Term Maderization is Used it Refers to Anything Other Than Wines of Island of Madeira, Which See Purposeful, Controlled Heat Exposure. Maderization Indicates Faults Linked to Heat Exposure and Accelerated Oxidation Process Which Leaves Wine With Cooked Flavors. Wine Start to Deteriorate at Temperatures Above 80° and Wine Will Actually Cook at Temperatures Above 95°.
  • Maderized Descriptors


COOKED WINE– Refers to Wine That Has Been Exposed to Elevated Heat.

  • Elage is the Space of Air That is Left In the Bottle After Corking.  If Wine is Left In a Elevated Temperature Environment (+75° Degrees) For an Extended Period of Time the Space Will Heat Up and Cook the Wine.  Another Problem With This is the Hot Air Will Expand and Start to Push Out the Cork Protruding Past the Top of the Bottle Lip Leading to the Possibility of Oxygen Ingress.
  • Cooked Wine Descriptors Flat, Dull, Stewed, Not Fresh, Baked or Burnt, Without Pronounced Aromas or Flavors


  • A Bacterial Infection That Develops When Wine Is Exposed to Oxygen After the Racking or Bottling.


  • A Awkward Tasting Period of Time In a Wines History When the Bottle Development Between Youth and Maturity.
  • The Fruit’s Freshness Begins to Decrease Before the Wines Maturity Develops. The Combination of Decreasing Fruit and Developing Maturity Leave the Wine In a “Dumb Phase” or Dumb Phase That Could Last For a Couple Months to a Few Years.
  • In Generally the Bigger the Wines Structure Such as Bordeaux Varieties the More Likely a Closed Phase Will Develop.
  • Bottle Shock Descriptors– Astringent, Harsh, Disjointed Flavors


  • A Wine Bottle That Doesn’t Taste Right After Travels, This Temporary Condition of the Wine Characterized by Muted or Disjointed Fruit Flavors.
  • There is No Scientific Information On Travel Shock, But Road or Air Transportation Genuinely Affects Wine.
    • There is a General Consensus That Travel Shock is Something That Can Be Cured by a Period of Rest In Dark, Cellared Control Environment.
  • Travel Shock Usually is Noticed Immediately After Bottling or With Wines That Have Been Shaken or Subjected to Prolonged Vibration During Recent Long Travels. It’s More Prevalent In Older/ Fragile Wines Which Have Dropped Some Sediment. Bottle Shock is a Temporary Condition That’s Often Remedied by a Few Day of Rest In Proper Storing Conditions.
  • Vibration is Often Associated With Bottle Shock.  Vibrations Can…
    • Disturb Sediment In the Bottle.
    • Causes Complex Chemical Reactions.
    • Results In creased Kinetic Energy Which Lead to a Decrease In Tartaric and Succinic Acids.
  • Wine is Alive and Just Like Anything That is Alive, Wine Can Be Temperamental.
  • Travel Shock Descriptors Muted Flvours, Austere, Hollow Mouth Feel, Lack of Balance


  • Degree to Which Different Bottles of the Same Wine From the Same Vintage Can Look, Smell and Taste Different.
    • Variation In Blending the Wine.
    • Variation In Sulfur Use.
    • Variation In Packaging. (Bottle, Cork, Capsule)
    • Variation In Transportation. (The Same Wine Being Transferred to Different Countries.)
    • Variation In Storage.


LIGHT STRIKE- Exposure to Light That Creates Damage to the Wine.  Light Damage Produces Wines That Have Off-Smelling Aromas of  Sulphur Compounds, Rotten Cabbage, Wet Wool or Old Egg.  It Can Also Dull the Wine Primary Aromas.

    • Direct sunlight
    • Indirect Sunlight.
    • Artificial Lamps, Fluorescent Tubes, LED
  • Clear Glass is the Biggest Culprit, Most Bottles Are Green, Ambler or Brown the Prevent This But Certain Producers Like the Way a Wine Presents Itself In Clear Bootles Which Shows Color.
  • DEMYSTIFYING PROCEDURE~ ~Always Be Mindful of Your Wine at All Times.~
    • As Soon You Procure Your New Wine Bottle Be Aware of it at All Times.  Just a Small Lapse of Leaving the Bottle On the Kitchen Counter For 30 Minutes In Direct Sun or Indirect Sun Exposure Can Effects Your Wine.

Direct Sunlight is the Vines Best Friend and a Wines Enemy.

**Refer to BIBLIOGRAPHY/ SOURCES For Details On Scholarly Works Referenced.