Article by Wine Searcher

A is for Antifreeze

While the Austrian wine industry would like to erase the 1985 antifreeze scandal from our collective memory, a few unscrupulous producers did great harm to the country’s image by adding toxic antifreeze (diethylene glycol) to their wines to make them sweeter. The fallout was so great that even Australian wines suffered loss of sales because their country name was easily confused with Austria!

Most country’s wine regulations list the additives that are permitted rather than offering a list of additives that cannot be used. Unsurprisingly, antifreeze is not on the list of permitted additives.

B is for Botrytis (not the noble kind)

The vineyard mold that is responsible for producing the concentrated, honeyed flavors in most of the world’s greatest sweet wines can be the stuff of winemakers’ dreams. However, Botrytis can also be an unwelcome visitor, causing rot in the vineyards. If the rotten fruit makes its way into the fermentation, it causes the wine to prematurely oxidize and can impart off-flavors.

C is for Cooked

Madeira producers like to gently heat their wines to give them a unique burnt-sugar tang. But if bottles of any other wine are exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time, they’ll get cooked. Wines left in shipping containers on hot dock sides or those stored by a domestic stove are common victims. Wine, like dogs and children, shouldn’t be left in a car on a hot day, either.

A lack of care results in wine that is prematurely aged. It may take on a darker appearance and will be duller on the nose and palate. Expect stewed fruit and nutty aromas instead of bright fruit. A cork that’s been pushed out of the bottle slightly is a tell-tale sign.

D is for Disulfides

Here comes the science. Disulfides can be formed by the interaction of smelly mercaptans (see M) and oxygen. They can smell bad: think onions, garlic, burnt rubber and cabbage.

E is for Ethanol

Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is at the very heart of winemaking but if it’s too high, the wine can develop a sake-like odor and may cause a slight burning sensation at the back of the throat. Ingesting too much ethanol may result in headaches, mild nausea, and the need to spend the next day on the sofa.

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