The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 104 of 124

104 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015/2016 { scents & accountability } O f all the ways that winemaking can go sideways, when it comes to noticeable flaws or faults that can make a wine undrinkable, prevention is the name of the game. Winemakers are trained to recognize and address problems with wine quality early in the vinification cycle lest they find themselves coping with the consequences. For the rest of the industry, being able to readily identify the litany of defects that can afflict wine requires sensory training and a baseline understanding of molecular biology and chemistry. This is not everyone's cup of tea. But, if you're fascinated by assessing wine quality as are most professional wine judges (and those trained to assess beer, cider, olive oil etc.), recognizing and identifying flaws and faults in wine is comparable to bird-watching. You'll encounter garden-variety species like Brettanomyces and TCA often enough, but it's the rare sighting and identification of an elusive species like the stubborn defect of dimethyl disulfide that keeps birdwatchers and, in this case, wine judges hooked. Thanks to modern winemaking practices, the vast majority of commercially-made wine is flawless if not exemplary. But when compared to other types of beverages and even other beverage alcohols, historically wine has had a higher failure rate. Consider the time-honored practice of nosing and tasting a wine one that's attributed to appreciation but serves a more practical purpose of gauging its condition before committing to a full pour. This is the first in a six-part series on wine quality, originating from curriculum developed by the author for a semester-long wine faults class offered by the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Department at Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA. The author would like to express her gratitude to Department Chair Sue Slater, CSW, FWS for her support and guidance. The Physiology of Flavor DETECTING WINE FAULTS INVOLVES MORE THAN MEETS THE NOSE by Deborah Parker Wong

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