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Wine Hack: 8 Simple Signs that Your Wine is Bad

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.

    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.

    More by this author

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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