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Wine Hack: 8 Simple Signs that Your Wine is Bad

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Wine Hack: 8 Simple Signs that Your Wine is Bad

    Ever been unsure whether the wine in your glass is OK to drink?

    I certainly have.

    But after a few wayward years spent working as a wine maker in some of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, I’ve come to realize that it’s not as difficult as you’d think.

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    Most wine making faults can be detected just by smelling your wine. All you need is to keep in mind a few key aromas to watch out for. If you can’t smell any of them, you’ll know your wine is probably fine.

    It also helps to have a look in the glass.

    The color can tell you if the wine has been exposed to excess air. Or if there are signs of bubbles and it’s not meant to be a sparkling wine, I’d be a little worried about that too.

    Cloudiness in wine, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some wine makers prefer to leave their wine unfiltered to avoid the loss of flavor that can come in the pursuit of a perfectly clear, filtered wine.

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    At the end of the day if it smells delicious and tastes good too, you’ll know you’re onto a good thing.

    Maybe time to order another bottle?

    8 Simple Signs that Your Wine is Bad

    1. The colour browner than you would expect.
    When white wine is exposed to air, it takes on a browner colour. When red wine is oxidized, it loses some of its bright red or purple colors and starts looking brown as well. In aged wines, both white and red, this is natural and to be expected. But if your wine is young – only 1 or 2 years old, it can be a sign that the wine has been exposed to too much air. This can either mean the bottle has been open for a few days or it may have happened in the winery or during the bottling process.

    A good way to learn how the color changes is to keep an opened bottle of wine for a few days. Then open a fresh bottle of the same wine and compare the color of the two samples. Guaranteed the wine that has been open for longer will look more brown.

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    2. The wine has bubbles when it’s not mean to.

    If you’re expecting the wine to be still and it comes with a bit of fizz, this is a warning sign that some sort of fermentation is occurring in the bottle. Not a good thing. Ask for another bottle, although if the second bottle has the same problems, it’s time to try a different wine.

    If you’re at home and there isn’t any more wine, you’ve got a bigger problem. Time to stock the cellar. But for now, it won’t hurt you to drink your unexpected sparkling wine.

    3. Smells like wet dog or wet cardboard.
    These aromas are associated with cork taint, or the wine being ‘corked’. This is a sign that the cork has had mold growing on it at some stage which left a chemical, known as TCA, in the cork. The mold may be long gone but even tiny amounts of TCA can impart negative flavors on wine.

    This can vary from bottle to bottle, so ask for a fresh bottle if you can. If it the last one was corked, the new bottle will taste completely different. It won’t hurt you to drink a corked wine, but depending on the level of the doggy/cardboardy flavors it may not be a very pleasant experience.

    4. Smells like band-aids or a barn yard.

    In small doses, a little bit of barn yard can add complexity to wine and isn’t necessarily bad. But if all you’re smelling is band-aids or farm animals, it’s a problem with the wine. Generally this is a result of a yeast called brettanomyces or ‘brett’ and is a sign of poor hygiene in the winery, although it can also come from the grapes themselves.

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    Again, it’s not going to cause any harm to humans, but the bad news is that the whole batch of wine will probably have the same issues. Grabbing a fresh bottle won’t help here.

    5. Smells like nail polish remover or vinegar.

    A sign that acetic acid bacteria have been at work in your wine causing a fault known as volatile acidity, or VA. Like, brett, a little bit of VA can add complexity and be a good thing, but when it dominates, it becomes a fault. Still, won’t harm you to drink it, although it may give a burning sensation in sensitive people.

    6. Smells ‘mousey’.
    Another microbial wine making fault, although thankfully not very common. For me, any amount of mouse aroma in a wine is a bad thing, but some people don’t mind it so much. Again, it’s not toxic but very unpleasant – enough to make me happy drinking water.

    7. Smells like burnt rubber or cooked cabbage.
    Another relatively uncommon wine making fault, caused by the formation of undesirable sulfur compounds in wine. If you can, choose another wine.

    8. The wine has no aroma.
    This could be because the wine is too cold, or it needs a little air. Warm the glass with your hands and swirl a little to introduce more air. If it still isn’t smelling like much after a few minutes, it could be that the wine just doesn’t have much flavour.

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    The other explanation could be a very low level of cork taint, enough to strip any good flavors from the wine, but not at a high enough level to exhibit the wet cardboard or doggy unpleasantness normally associated with TCA.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2022

    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

    A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

    To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

    1. Camping

    A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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    2. Staycation

    You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

    3. Island Getaway

    People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

    4. Fancy Resort

    Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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    5. Road Trip

    The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

    6. Charter a Boat

    If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

    7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

    If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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    8. Themed Retreats

    There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

    9. Working Honeymoon

    Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

    10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

    Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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    Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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