Consider this 60-second alert your “flaw flash warning.” After you take our pop quiz, you’ll be able to sniff out a problem wine.

True or False? A wine is flawed if it smells like:

A)        band-aid?flawedwine

B)        barnyard?

C)        wet, musty cardboard?

D)        cat pee?

E)        rotten eggs?

F)        petroleum?

G)        nail polish?

Okay genius, here’s the skinny:

If your sniffer picks up band-aid, wet cardboard, rotten eggs or nail polish, you’ve got a flaw on your hands. The other aromas listed, odd as they seem, are actually respectable in the wine world.

Now you’re all set to be a charmer when you order wine in a restaurant, thanks to this 60-second sip.


For those who have another minute to spare, here’s the detailed answer key:

A)        True. The smell of band-aids is a flaw. (It’s caused by temperamental wild yeasts known as Brettanomyces often called Brett.)

B)          False. The smell of barnyard isn’t a flaw, and is a beloved aroma in many pinot noirs.

C)        True. The smell of wet, musty cardboard is a flaw. (TCA is primarily responsible for cork taint. For the curious, TCA is the chemical structure 2,4,6-trichloroanisole.)

D)        False. The smell of cat pee isn’t a flaw, and some consider it a lovely aroma in sauvignon blanc.

E)          True. The smell of rotten eggs is a flaw. (It’s caused by volatile sulfur compounds.)

F)          False. Many consider the smell of petroleum a lovely aroma in older rieslings.

G)        True. The smell of nail polish is a flaw. (It’s caused by volatile acidity.)

Okay rock star, you stand protected. Now that you’ve trained your palate, a substandard wine never has to pass your lips.

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