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How to tell if a bottle of wine is faulty, corked or impaired

With an increasing, technological advancments in wine, it's often presumed that 'corked wine' - that is, the tainting of the aroma and taste of a vintage to undesirable levels is a thing of the past.

Not so. Corked and faulty wines still commonly occur, from shop-bought bottles to glasses poured in the finest restaurants. 

Despite the best, state-of-the-art, climate controlled wine cabinets available today, corked wine remains a problem, but there are certain, subtle ways to tell if your bottle has gone.

According to wine distributor Bibendum PLB, just three per cent of wines are corked, as opposed to the one-fifth from 10 years ago. 

That smaller percentage is still higher than it should be, though, and there are numerous signs and tell-tale characteristics of a corked wine that you should look out for.

Aroma

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Smell has always been the obvious indicator of a corked wine. Sometimes, the aroma can be so unpleasant that it can prevent the consumer from taking a drink, so take a sniff of your vino once it's been opened.

You're scanning for a musty or mouldy scent, one that would be quite unmistakable regardless of whether or not you are familiar with the label.

Making things a little more complicated, though, is if you have picked an off-the-wall wine of an unconventional nature, or perhaps a classic you have never happened upon before.

An aged Riesling, for example, may smell like petrol - a gorgeous smell to some, distasteful to others - but that is how it is produced. If you are experimenting with a new wine, it can be best to check the tasting notes beforehand.

Taste

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Tired, or flat-tasting wines are indicative of a problem, and should be reported. However a vast array of wines are produced to give hints of other alcoholic drinks, such as cider - especially whites.

You should be made aware of this when ordering, as even the avant-garde wines are not designed to catch you off-guard.