Identify and Prevent Common Wine Faults with New Guide

The reputation of a quality wine depends on a fault-free sensory experience

September 29, 2020, 3:06 pm | Aude Watrelot, Jennie Savits

AMES, Iowa – Winemakers know that to produce a quality wine, they need to manage and prevent faults and defects.

Unpleasant sensory characteristics can easily affect the look, smell or taste of the wine, and leave the consumer with a bad experience.

wine in barrels.To help winemakers and the industry better understand common faults, enology specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recently published a series of publications that help with identification, prevention and management of common wine faults.

“Wine Faults Series” provides a basic overview of 12 common wine faults, including volatile acidity, cork taint, oxidation, excessive sulfur dioxide, refermentation and many more.

The taste experience is a critical part of consumer satisfaction, and having an unwanted taste or smell can be detrimental.

“You don’t want the consumer to sense a fault,” said Aude Watrelot, assistant professor and extension enology specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The Wine Faults publication helps winemakers identify the different faults, how to prevent them and how to manage if you already have a fault.”

A winemaker’s reputation depends on a good-tasting, quality product and a bad experience can set an unwanted precedent for the future.

“There can also be preconceived notions about wine or wine from a particular region, such as the Midwest, so we really want to make sure that were making clean, good, sound wines that are making a good impression,” said Jennie Savits, program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, and the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute.

The publication provides an easy-to-follow chart that compares the different faults, in addition to the explanations about prevention and management.

Working with Maureen Moroney, enology research associate, and Joe Hannan, commercial horticulture specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, the team also produced three additional publications called “Cleaning and Sanitation in the Winery," "Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures,” and “Copper Sulfate Trial” – which looks at the amount of copper needed for wine treatment.

According to Watrelot, sanitation is a key part of having a fault-free wine, and winemakers need to be following the standard operating procedures.

The publications can easily be read in the wine cellar, in the office or wherever the winemaker feels like reviewing their knowledge of wine faults.

They can be downloaded for free from the Iowa State University Extension Store, and will also be provided during educational events and roundtables.


Photo Credit: Zsolt Biczó/

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