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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.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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