Is that Bottle of Wine old?


October 17, 2006   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Hey give me a beer and I am happy 30 minutes, give me several and I happy for hours. My wife on the other hand likes wine and she can’t quite down an entire bottle by herself. So, we have 6 corked bottles sitting around which inevitably turn bad.

So, how do you know you have bad wine? Well, the Sommelier at NY Magazine has some hints. Here are the things that do NOT work as indicators:

  • A bottle is not bad just because you don’t like the wine. There are many variations in wine-making style, so a bottle that doesn’t suit your preferences is not necessarily defective. Of course, the sommelier should help you select a bottle that’s to your liking, but ultimately only you are responsible for your personal tastes.
  • A bottle is not bad just because the label is damaged. Most wine travels thousands of miles to get to you, and there are plenty of opportunities for bumping and grinding. Likewise, in a cellar where thousands of bottles are stored together, one bottle can break, leaking wine onto hundreds of others. This does not affect the wine inside the intact bottles.
  • A bottle is not bad just because it has little white crystals accumulated at the bottom or adhering to the cork. These crystals (called tartrate) are a natural by-product of unfiltered, unprocessed fine wines and are totally harmless.
  • A bottle is not “corked” just because it has bits of cork in it (all this means is that an inexperienced waiter pushed the corkscrew all the way through the cork, thus forcing pieces into the wine) or because it has an unsightly or even moldy cork. The term corked has a very specific meaning, which I’ll explain in a moment.

To find out what DOES constitute a bad wine, visit The Sommelier at NY Magazine.


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