Common Wine Faults Explained

I ONCE HAD a rather strange experience with a screw cap. It was the depths of winter, and I was in the mood for a glass of full-bodied Australian red.

After twisting off the cap, a small plastic disk remained on top of the bottle. As I moved to pick it off, pop! Off the disk flew and wine sprayed everywhere.

I’m still not quite sure what happened. Possibly, some carbon dioxide was trapped inside during bottling, creating a buildup in pressure. Or a combination of excess sugar and a high storage temperature may have caused the wine to re-ferment. I suspect it was the latter, as the wine was fizzy and I ended up pouring it down the sink.

This explosive encounter reminded me that wine can be prey to all sorts of unexpected faults, from cork taint to small crystals at the bottom of the bottle. Some are easy to detect, clearly affecting the taste, but others are less obvious.