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Occasionally you will get a bottle of wine that is flawed. There are a few reasons why this might happen, but usually it is not the fault of anyone in particular. However, there are some ways you can accidentally ruin your wine:

  1. Serving temperature

All wine has an optimum temperature at which it is best enjoyed. Although not many people realise this, and certainly not many restaurants follow, red wine should be slightly ‘cool’ so it is not served too warm, and white wine should be allowed to ‘warm up’ when taken straight from the fridge. A bottle of white is actually far more enjoyable if it is just chilled rather than too cold and the taste of red wine can be ruined if you serve it too warm.

  1. Storage

There are some important rules when storing wine in your home. Find a place that has the right level of humidity. Too much and you can risk getting mouldy corks that will ruin the wine. Not enough and the corks will dry out and crack, letting air get into the bottle and oxidising it long before you even open it. Try not to move the bottles too often as it is best if they remain still. And finally, cork bottles should always be laying down as opposed to standing. Of course, if the wine is sealed with a screw cap – which most modern wines are – you can stand the bottles up and there’s no need to worry about levels of humidity. All wine should be kept in a darkened area, not exposed to direct sunlight. Even strong overhead lights can cause damage if they are left on all of the time and glowing directly on the bottles. If there will be lighting near your bottles, make sure you use bulbs with a UV protectant coating.

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  1. Overheating wine

Once wine hits a certain temperature it will begin ‘cooking’ and the damage done is irreversible. If you have a bottle of wine that has a cork in it and you fear it may have been exposed to high temperatures, take a look at the positioning of the cork. If it is slightly pushed out, this means the wine has been cooked and you can expect it will be ruined. Never keep wine in a place where it can be exposed to extreme heat such as next to the oven or above the fridge. When you are choosing a bottle from the shop, don’t choose the bottles that are near the windows as they may have been exposed to direct sunlight.

  1. Leaving it open for too long

Once a bottle of wine has been opened, oxygen will get in and the oxidation process will begin. You can slow this process down by re-sealing the wine properly but you cannot stop it, so the best thing you can do is make sure you drink the wine within the right timeframe. Red wines and heavy bodied whites should be finished within three to five days. Lighter white wines have a bit longer, lasting up to five days.

  1. Store it for too long

Always check the label of a new bottle of wine to see how long you should cellar it for. All wine is different, and while some may be ready to be enjoyed now, others may benefit from cellaring for a few years. But no wine is good if you leave it for far too long and miss the best year to open it. Read the labels carefully and try using wine tags on your bottles so you know at a glance which ones are ready for drinking.

The following ways in which a wine can be ruined cannot be helped by the end consumer. But these points are worth knowing about so you can understand if the wine you have bought is flawed and whether or not you should return it:

  1. Cork taint

When airborne fungi come into contact with cork, it will produce TCA. This is a chemical compound that will unfortunately ruin a good bottle of wine. At least three percent of wines that have a natural cork are affected by this fungus, but if you have a screw top this isn’t something you need to worry about.

  1. Volatile acidity

Volatile acidity is normal in all wines, but only in small quantities. However, if there’s bacteria in the winery the combination of this with the alcohol and oxygen, it can create volatile acidity to levels that will destroy the wine, leaving it tasting sour with a strong dose of vinegar.

  1. Fermenting after being bottled

If a wine is not filtered prior to bottling, there may be leftover yeast and sugar in the wine and this will cause the wine to begin fermenting again in storage. By the time you open a bottle that has been fermenting accidentally you will know due to the tiny bubbles, as well as the bad taste.

  1. Excessive sulphur

Sulphur is important in the winemaking process, especially when it comes to keeping bacteria away. However, too much sulphur can ruin a good bottle of wine. The result of too much sulphur is a wine that can taste or smell like burnt matches or rubber, or in some cases like rotten eggs.

  1. A yeast called brett

Brett is short for a yeast called brettanomyces which tends to grow in the barrels in wineries. It is difficult to fully eliminate brett once it has infiltrated a winery, and so some wineries have actually become known for producing wines that have the distinct flavours that brett can bring. In a small amount, it can be quite pleasant. However, in large amounts it will spoil a good bottle of wine.

At Taylors Wines we have developed a unique, touch activated temperature sensor so you can tell when your wine is at the perfect serving temperature to enjoy. Read more about our new Optimum Drinking Temperature sensor and order your FREE sensor stickers today to take the Taylors Temperature Challenge and see the difference for yourself.

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Temperature is very important when it comes to wine, not just for when you are storing it or serving it, but all the way from the very beginning. The moment a viticulturist plants a vine, temperature plays a big role throughout the process of the grapes growing, being processed into wine, being transported and stored correctly until the moment it hits your glass at the perfect degree.

It all begins where the grapes are grown. There are two climates that grapes are grown in: warm climate or cool climate. Even if the varietal is the same, the taste of the fruit will vary depending on which climate it was grown in.

Like all fruit, a grape needs a certain amount of warmth and sunlight in order to ripen fully. A sufficient amount of heat during growing season will yield a good crop, allowing the growers enough grapes to make wine or to sell on to winemakers. No one is in charge of the weather, so each year is different and no one really knows how it is going to play out. A colder than usual year will produce a very different tasting crop to one that has experienced a warmer than usual season.

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Just as the sun needs to be shining enough throughout the summer to produce an abundance of fruit, it also needs to become cold enough for the vine to go dormant during winter. The dormant part of the life cycle is actually just as important as the growing stage.

Grapes for wine are grown in all parts of the world. It can come from regions that experience colder temperatures, like New Zealand or Tasmania, or it can come from warm climates like Spain and Argentina. All of these regions work to their own strengths and plant varietals that are more suitable to the climate they are in. However, it is possible to grow most varietals in any climate, it will just impact on the taste of the fruit and therefore the wine.

Cool climate wine

A cool climate region is just that; an area that experiences colder temperatures. It doesn’t need to be an area that stays cold all year round, in fact they rarely do. In the warmer months they may experience very high temperatures, but there are other factors at play with how the grapes grow. It can depend on the length of the growing season, how fast the temperature drops off towards harvest time and how much direct sunlight the fruit is exposed to during the season. A cool climate may have a warm day, but the amount of hours the sun is out is vastly different to a warm climate. The metabolic process of the vine and the fruit will be slowed down due to less, or weaker, sunlight and the development of sugar slows down. This is why the wine will be more acidic than the warm climate wines.

A cool climate wine will be lower in alcohol, be light bodied and have a subtler taste. It will be higher in acidity. The type of grapes that thrive in cool climates are: pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.

Warm climate wine

A warm climate will experience hot temperatures and a lot of direct sunlight. A direct, strong sun for more hours of the day will make the fruit grow faster and ripen more quickly. The sun also plays the lead role in how much sugar grows within the grape, so a warm climate wine will be sweeter to taste as the sugar content is higher.

A warm climate wine is usually bolder, with a full body and stronger fruit flavours. It will have a higher alcohol content and less acidity. Most reds are suited to warm climates.

Transportation and storage

No matter which climate a grape has been grown in, even if it is from the hottest corner of the earth, once produced into wine it should never be exposed to too much heat.

One of the biggest concerns for the growers and the wine producers is that the transportation of the wine to the shops and eventually to the consumer is done with the utmost care, so that each person can enjoy the same taste from the wine that the maker had intended. When wine is exposed to heat it will begin the aging process and can actually age a bottle up to four times faster than one that has been kept within the correct temperature range.

Once a customer has purchased a bottle of wine and intends to drive home with it, there is no need to be concerned about the temperature fluctuation from the liquor shop, to the car, to the house. A slow and small variation is not going to make a huge difference. However, if the wine is accidentally left in a hot car for a day or two there will be an unpleasant difference in the taste once it is eventually opened.

At Taylors Wines we have developed a unique, touch activated temperature sensor so you can tell when your wine is at the perfect serving temperature to enjoy. Read more about our new Optimum Drinking Temperature sensor and order your FREE sensor stickers today to take the Taylors Temperature Challenge and see the difference for yourself.

taylors-temperature-challenge-footer

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Pouring yourself a glass of wine, and taking that first sip can be one of life’s great pleasures. There are a couple of factors at play here in creating that amazing experience. There is, of course, the taste of the wine. But helping create that overall enjoyable experience is also the aroma of the wine.

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What does wine and a wet dog have in common?

Have you ever heard someone say ‘tastes like a wet dog’? We are willing to bet they have never actually tasted a wet dog, yet this term is used to describe tastes. Why? Because it is said that 85% of your taste is actually derived from your sense of smell. So if you smell something as strong and obvious as a wet dog, you can almost taste it in your mouth. And you can certainly recognise it when something does taste as bad as a wet dog.

The same applies when you have a head cold – your nose is blocked up and you notice that you can’t really taste your food properly anymore.

So although the smell of wine is enjoyable, it is also pertinent to the taste of wine.

When you are wine tasting, if you keep an open mind to the possibilities of what the aroma could bring, you will be amazed at the new world that is opened up to you. Aromas from fruit and plants, through to coffee or spices will present themselves and often there will be a mixture of several scents to take in.

When it comes time to taste a wine, really take the time to work out what aromas and flavours are in each sip. Before trying it, swirl the glass so oxygen will go into the wine, and this will allow the aromas to be released. After a moment, take a sniff from the glass. It is best to leave your mouth open slightly, and to take several short sniffs, but you do whatever works best for you.

If you do several short sniffs, you’ll unlock more of the aromatics in the wine and be able to discern the different layers. Remember, be open minded about what you may be picking up. If you are new to wine tasting it can be a good idea to take a copy of the Davis Wine Aroma Wheel to understand what you might be smelling.

When it comes to aroma, you will see many descriptive terms for what you may taste and smell in the glass of wine. It might be fruits, such as blueberries or cherries, or floral such as roses or geranium, or they might fall into other food categories with flavours like coffee or chocolate, vanilla or pepper.

There are three levels of aroma: Primary (usually what is experienced in a young bottle of wine and the smells are mainly related to fruit), secondary (this relates to the smells that have come about because of the winemaking process)and tertiary (these are related to the smells that appear over time as the wine ages). The secondary and tertiary qualities often come out more in a mature wine as the more primary fruit aromas drop away. These ones are layers that offer more depth and complexity.

 What can influence the aroma?

There are quite a few factors that go into the aroma of wine. It starts with the soil that the vines were planted in and the type of grapes being grown. It ends with how the wine maker chooses to create the wine.IMG_7837

The type of grape used is the determining factor on the kind of wine produced, so therefore has a huge influence on the taste and the smell of a wine. But the same type of grape can produce two very different tasting wines when other factors come into play. For example, a sauvignon blanc that is made in a cool climate region will taste and smell different to one from a warm climate wine region.

Wine produced in warm climate regions will be bigger, bolder, with higher alcohol and less acidity. This is because with more exposure to sun, the sugar content of the grapes increases faster. A cool climate wine will be subtler in taste and aroma, with lower alcohol and higher in acidity.

Other environmental factors that have an impact on the aroma of wine is the soil, the location of the vineyard and whether it is on a sloping or flat block.

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The influence of the winemaker

Two more influencing factors are the maker and the end user. The winemaker will make many decisions that will vary the end result of the wine, such as what yeast to use to ferment, what (if any) type of oak is used and also how long to mature the wine before selling it.

Once the wine reaches the consumer, they will then make decisions that will change the aroma further. Such as what temperature to serve the wine, how long to air it, what glass to pour it into and what food to serve it with.

The taste and the aroma of wine is a complex area thanks to the many elements that go into growing the grapes all the way through to the many different ways you can enjoy a drop at the end.

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