People are confused in their minds whether a wine’s smell are defective or whether they are just unfamiliar and unusual.Certainly, a wine past its peak should be refused. If a White wine is dark and yellow in color and smells like sherry, it is over-the-hill and likely maderized. Red wine become like brown in colour, often orange and around the rim, and , when accompanied by a flat, dull flavour, like dead leaves, and a sharp short finish are past their prime.

A wine is defective when it smells like vinegar. A nostril-piercing, dill pickle, sharp aroma usually signals excessive volatile acidity(VA) normally accompanied by ethyl acetate.Leave a halve a bottle in a warm place for about 2 weeks and then smell the wine. You will know what I mean.

Any wine that smells of sulfur dioxide, the smell of a burned match, is a candidate for rejection. If the aroma persist, rather than dissipates quickly, the wine should be rejected. Sulfur dioxide is a universally used as an anti–oxidant in the winemaking process, excessive amounts, however constitutes a flaw.

A smell similar to rotten eggs indicates the wine is tainted with hydrogen sulfide. It should be refused. Hydrogen sulfide develops often enough today through sloppy wine making or from over sulfured grapes.
Ocassionally, some wines give of other aromas indicating serious flaws.

Mercaptans are chemical compounds occasionaly formed in vinification, their smell is similar to that of garlic or onions, though some people associate the aroma with a “skunky” character. Return it immediately

Other smells to look for when evaluating a wine is acetone and moldiness. Acetone similar to nail polish remover, is sharp and unpleasant. Mold results from poorly treated barrels or casks and more often, from grapes which were rained upon at near-ripeness and thus developed rot.

Any wine that reminds you of a petro chemical oil rifenery smell is faulty as well.

Experience which helps you to detect the most common off aromas is the best teacher. Otherwise, remember you must never expect to return a wine which you ordered out of curiosity, but then did not like it. If you have doubt let the manager sample the wine. If in any way they are not sure about its merits and acceptibility, then you are of the hook and another bottle should be forthcoming.

In my experience, a well run restaurant will not quibble or get into a battle with you the customer The old saying that ” the customer is always right “ remains a fine business policy.However I urge you not to abuse the policy.
As a paying customer, and especially at the price restauranteurs get for wine you are entitled to a fair service.

Here are a few tips and tricks then that will assure you a better experience:

  • Make sure you are shown the bottle you odered. Check producer, type, vintage
  • See that the wine arrives with cork and foil capsule intact. It is possible that the bottle may have been refilled with inferior wine or one that was returned by another patron some time ago after the capsule was removed.
  • Take the time away from your friends and guests to study the wine bottle. Slow the Sommelier/wine waiter down to your pace – it is your money.
  • Hold the bottle in your hand and check it out for temperature. A red wine should be at room temperature according to your definition. Make sure the red wine is not to warm, since that may indicate bad storage, for instance too close to the heater or the kitchen or a lot in our case, the sun.White wines should not be freezing cold. If it is cold to the point of being iced, beware. Wines placed in temperatures which are too cold for a long time tend to go flat (lose their life ) It is better that your wine arrives at room temperature, then placed it in a ice bucket -for a few minutes.(2 Minutes max)
  • Do not let the wine bottle be opened untill you have given your official approval. Do not let it be poured into other glasses untill you have tasted and accepted it. “ Don’t be rushed”.
  • Here is a funny one , discreetly smell the empty glass. This sounds silly, but the slightest smell of soap or detergents would ruin most Champagnes and Sparkling wines and it will impair most table wines, that is red and white. Ask for a clean set of glasses, when returned check the glassware again. Just d’ont be anal about it. To rinse the glasses is not normally enough.
  • Make certain that the capsule is cut neatly and the cork removed cleanly. (Champagnes, incidentally, should be uncorked with a minimal pop if any) The cork should be offered to you and you should smell and feel it; It should not smell of vinegar, be dried out and crumble in your hands.
  • The wine should be clean and free of defects, but it should also be consistent with its type. This assumes some knowledge on your part.
  • If you randomly select a wine unfamiliar to you and discover it is not to your liking, that is your problem. You cant say then there is something wrong with this wine just because it is unfamiliar for you. Live and Learn.
  • Timing is a very important aspect. Very often, about the time the food arrives, you are informed that the wine you ordered is not available. Some of us plan the meal around the wine selected, this is not good news.You can avoid this by requesting that the wine or wines be presented and brought to the table ahead of the food.

Enjoy your journey further in the world of wine……………..