Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Only in a relative sense

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  • JackElder,

    Can you claim it's been corked if it's a screw-top bottle? Just curious, really.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Cork taint is a broad term referring to a set of undesirable smells or tastes found in a bottle of wine, especially spoilage that can only be detected after bottling, aging and opening. Though modern studies have shown that other factors can also be responsible for taint – including wooden barrels, storage conditions and the transportation of corks and wine – the cork is normally considered to be responsible, and a wine found to be tainted on opening is said to be "corked". Cork taint can affect wines irrespective of price and quality level.

    The chief cause of cork taint is the presence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) in the wine. Corked wine containing TCA has a characteristic odor, variously described as resembling a moldy newspaper, wet dog, damp cloth, or damp basement. In almost all cases of corked wine the wine's native aromas are reduced significantly, and a very tainted wine is completely undrinkable (though harmless). While the human threshold for detecting TCA is measured in the single-digit parts per trillion, this can vary by several orders of magnitude depending on an individual's sensitivity. Detection is also complicated by the olfactory system's particularly quick habituation to TCA, making the smell less obvious on each subsequent sniff.

    Going to Wikipedia so you don't have to.
    ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Davidson,

    Can you claim it's been corked if it's a screw-top bottle? Just curious, really.

    Nup, but there's not doubting Russell got screwed.

    Sydney • Since Mar 2007 • 59 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    They wouldn't consider it: on the basis that (wait for it) the bottle had been opened.

    Wouldn't that be in violation of the Consumer Guarantees Act?

    I mean, once I bought a bottle of orange juice that had started to ferment. I took it back to Foodtown and they happily exchanged it for a fresh one.

    Surely the same would apply to the wine.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Not fit for purpose, CGA. Go get em Russ.
    :-D

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Screw caps can't be "corked" in the TCA sense, but that can have oxidative faults (oxygen leaks), or some weird reductive things, if the wine is unstable at bottling.

    However, "canned asparagus" is the hallmark of older New Zealand sauvs, so it may well be that the wine was fine, but that it didn't age gracefully (in which case all the bottles will taste like that, and they probably shouldn't be selling it).

    Useful Screwcap Tip: When buying screwcap wine, check the top surface and edges for any hint of a dint. It's surprisingly easy to break the seal on the top surface, in which case your wine may already have oxidised to vinegar.

    On this point, it is possible that there may have been a small air amount of additional air get into Russell's bottle, in which case it could appear a further couple of year's older, in which case it would definitely be nasty and asparagusy.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Can you claim it's been corked if it's a screw-top bottle? Just curious, really.

    Nah, it wasn't corked -- it was a screw cap.

    But I was actually slightly pleased to detect such a powerful example of the asparagus smell, which is what you get when sav blanc goes off. Until, of course, my plan to go back into the shop and politely explain the problem didn't work out ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    On this point, it is possible that there may have been a small air amount of additional air get into Russell's bottle, in which case it could appear a further couple of year's older, in which case it would definitely be nasty and asparagusy.

    Interesting. As I said in the comment above, it was amazingly, unpleasantly pungent.

    I'm happy to take a punt on bin ends -- they're often a real bargain, and a good shop will always take back a bad one. But this isn't a good shop ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Oh, on wine nerditry, there's a neat article out in the last week or so on the reliability of wine show judges

    "Each panel of four expert judges received a flight of 30 wines imbedded with triplicate samples poured from the same bottle. Between 65 and 70 judges were tested each year. About 10 percent of the judges were able to replicate their score within a single medal group…. ” That is, 90% of the judges were not able to replicate their wine assessment within one medal group. In fact, 80% of the judges scored the same wine ranging from Gold to no medal"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Websta,

    A friend in the wine industry tells me that the vinyards will actually take back the corked bottles (or bottles otherwise oxidised / tainted thru no fault of the consumer), and replace them at no cost to the retailer - be that a liquor store, restaurant or what ever. Therefore, there is never an excuse from your retailer NOT to take the wine back because it doesn't hurt them monetarily to do so.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    They wouldn't consider it: on the basis that (wait for it) the bottle had been opened. They were not able to explain to me how I could tell the product had gone off without opening it to check.

    Pshaw... it's a well known non-fact that you high profile media types have, through prolonged marination of the brain in piss, developed a mutation whereby you can detect the quality (and price) of every form of alcohol through any substance. Except lead.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    which is what you get when sav blanc goes off

    Strictly speaking, it's not "off". Sauv is the Britney of the wine world, not aging gracefully.

    I'm all for bin ends, but I'd be very wary of 2006 Sauvignon (there's a fair bit of 2007 being pushed out cheaply at the moment as well). There's also some suggestion from within the industry that there will be quite a lot of bad Sauv coming on from 2008, where a lot of people without their own dedicated staff couldn't pick at the ideal time, had a lot of rain, and ended up with large juicy, but not very flavourful berries (think australian tomatoes).

    And of course, a good shop should actually check the quality of their bin ends before stocking them!

    Actually, I'm pretty much off buying cheap Sauv at the moment. I keep buying nasty green things (some even be-stickered), so I'm happier to pay a little more for things I actually know I'll like.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    And on an entirely different point, your use of "sav" is another example in addition to "tute" of abbreviations spelt to fit English language conventions, not the word they were abbreviated from.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    Yes, I would second (or third) the suggestion of invoking the CGA. That sort of behaviour is unacceptable and they need to be called on it.

    While talking about Sauvignon Blancs... I was doing some tidying in my 'cellar' and discovered a 'lost' 1987 Sauvignon Blanc! I am sort of afraid to open it!

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2007 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    We are such hedonists - right past the Iraq politics and onto the wine and consumerism. Hic.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I was doing some tidying in my 'cellar' and discovered a 'lost' 1987 Sauvignon Blanc! I am sort of afraid to open it!

    My recommended solution is wait for a dinner party or some event where you have a number of friends interested in wine around. That way, that way, by the time you've poured a few small glasses, if it's crap, it seems like less of a waste to pour the whole bottle out. And if it's great or interesting, then it's something cool that you've shared.
    Speaking of which, we won at a quiz a bottle of 1998 barrel aged Sauvignon blanc that I've been similarly wary of opening. No idea where they got the prize from...

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    We are such hedonists - right past the Iraq politics and onto the wine and consumerism. Hic.

    Apart from expressing my profound graitutde at living in a country where the only political assassinations are of the character variety, I don't know whether I've much to say beyond "Bugger" and "Holy crap" -- two observations that hardly expand the frontiers of human knowledge.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    On Iraq, it would be interesting to get a genuine view from the security forces there as to whether they think their efforts specifically foiled attacks or if there just wasn't the threat level as before. Of course we'll never get that, but still...



    (Sorry to interrupt the Point Chev Wine Scandal =P )

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Pleased to loose my mental side-bet that all the comments would be about the wine by the time I got here.

    And on an entirely different point, your use of "sav" is another example in addition to "tute" of abbreviations spelt to fit English language conventions, not the word they were abbreviated from.

    Eerily, it's also better adapted to the phrase 'a fair suck of the sav' than the origina sav. Especially in this case.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Sic the ComCom onto them, Russell. That's totally not on. Or, better still, threaten them with the wine maker. Manufacturers tend to be quite precious about their brand, and if you let it be known that their wines are being retailed in an undrinkable state, with no recourse, they may well "have words". Nothing achieves results quite like financial penalties, which is a good part of the reason why the ComCom is so effective. Fines and the like aren't good for the bottom line.

    As for Iraq, it's good to hear about the Blackwater ban. That's one seriously shady outfit, and it was very disconcerting to see the lengths the last US administration went to to protect them from the consequences of their fuckups. Comes back to the "shoot first, shoot again, shoot some more, and if someone asks a question shoot them too", mentality that seems to be associated with giving an American a firearm and telling them to go forth to "protect and defend" or whatever the nonsense is that they spout.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    While I'm on the topic of blood-thirsty crazies, how about them Christchurch "boy racers"? Are they really as fucking stupid as they seem? Ambushing a cop, apparently with intent to do him some serious harm, is tantamount to a declaration of war. I'm pretty sure I've encountered retarded slugs that have greater cognisance of the word "consequences". One hopes that appropriately-delegated shift supervisors will be very liberal in their authorisation of firearms carrying for the near future.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    As for Iraq, it's good to hear about the Blackwater ban. That's one seriously shady outfit, and it was very disconcerting to see the lengths the last US administration went to to protect them from the consequences of their fuckups. Comes back to the "shoot first, shoot again, shoot some more, and if someone asks a question shoot them too", mentality that seems to be associated with giving an American a firearm and telling them to go forth to "protect and defend" or whatever the nonsense is that they spout.

    I borrowed a book about Blackwater off a friend in mid-2008 and finally finished it about a month ago. *Seriously* terrifying stuff. I actually find it quite interesting from a historical perspective in terms of the fact that mercenary armies were the status quo until only a couple of centuries ago, and they seem to be making a comeback. But otherwise, it's really scary - especially when you drop in the religious mindset of the founders (either the founder of Blackwater or someone closely related to him, I forget which, gave a lot of money to the Prop 8 crowd in California.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    While I'm on the topic of blood-thirsty crazies, how about them Christchurch "boy racers"? Are they really as fucking stupid as they seem? Ambushing a cop, apparently with intent to do him some serious harm, is tantamount to a declaration of war.

    Without wanting to derail the thread any further, even though I have no time for the little buggers, it's not quite that simple.

    There's a huge amount of political point-scoring going on down here over boy racers. Since Sideshow Bob got in, he HAS made a difference, give him his due. Things have got worse all right, but the declaration of war was on HIS side.

    This is not an issue, IMO, that can be fixed by policing. A wish to see sit downs and listening might make me a huge wet liberal, but treating them like vermin doesn't seem to be working.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    The Great Point Chev Wine Scandal of '09.

    Maybe we could call it 'Winebox'? Or is that one already taken? I'm sure the other one wasn't too important. Winegate?

    WRT Iraq

    I don't know whether I've much to say beyond "Bugger" and "Holy crap"

    Seconded. although I'm sure the republican candidate for New Orleans will be along shortly to explain why we're wrong (Candyman, Candyman, Cand......).

    That's one seriously shady outfit

    One thing recently that actually really disconcerted me about Blackwater was when I found out they were building their own airforce. That's kinda major.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    One of the reasons the Bushites made so much use of "civilian contractors" (A.K.A. Mercenaries) was to cynically manipulate casualty figures for propaganda purposes.

    The figures for U.S. loses in Iraq since 2003 - around the 4,300 with an astonishing 44,000+ wounded - does not include about another 1,000 "contractors" killed along with several thousand more wounded.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

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