Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof
Education Experience 4.0 Wine Courses

Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Experience: 4/5

There was no easy route from the Southern Suburbs, Cape Town to the Cape Wine Academy offices in North-East Stellenbosch for a 6pm start. I left plenty of time as I had not been to the venue before and yet I was one of the last to arrive. There was an unexplained hush among the 20 or so students in the classroom. I never got the chance for introductions and so perhaps they were eager learners in awe of their Professor.

Lecturer Dr Wessel du Toit, Associate Professor at the Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Stellenbosch University, was anything but imposing. Chatty and with humour, he guided us through the characteristics and chemistry of faulty wines. I soon learned that faulty and spoiled wines are not the same. ‘Faulty’ wines are not always spoiled. How does that make sense?! A faulty wine is one with a definite fault which lowers the quality or makes the wine undrinkable. A spoiled wine, in the other hand – pun intended – is one that has been tainted or is undrinkable by certain micro-organisms.

The first half of the lecture was theory, the second practice. Wine faults are logically classified into those that can be seen (clarity and colour), smelt (off flavours) or tasted (bitterness). We can detect 5 or 6 taste sensations but several hundred aromas and so most faults are detected on the nose. Dr du Toit explained the different characteristics, causes and methods of prevention for cloudy wines, those with crystals and other hazes. I have rarely seen hazy wines in recent experience but have occasionally seen crystals in the bottom of a glass of white wine.

I have occasionally too detected volatile acidity (VA) caused by poor bacteria or yeast. The risk of VA is the reason why winemaking using natural yeasts is so risky. Brettanomyces, commonly known as ‘brett’, is rare too. It reduces fruitiness and wine complexity and brings distinct medicinal/elastoplast or rancid barnyard/horse sweat aromas to a faulty wine. Cork taint, that gives wine a metallic earthy, mouldy, mushroom or damp cardboard nose, is decreasingly common due to a combination of better winemaking, improved treatment of natural cork, synthetic corks and screw-caps. We learned too the difference between wines with oxidation and those that are over-aged. As for bitter tasting wines, Pinotage used to be susceptible. I learned that our sensitivity differs widely. This can range from allergy to ‘super taster’.

Theory over and it was time to smell and taste the major wine faults that had been reproduced with ‘spiked’ wines. We sampled white wines with mouldy TCA, the chemical and burning after-taste of over ageing, burnt rubber aromas from H2S, and with a sherry/nutty nose that is symptomatic of oxidisation. Red wine faults that were shown included medicinal ‘brett’, acetone/nail polish remover VA, mouldy potato oxidisation and dry, flat, plumy over ageing.


We ended with some ‘nice wines to taste’ as Dr du Toit informed. These were 2 wines made by Stellenbosch University: a fruity 2016 Die Laan Chenin Blanc (R55) and a plum 2015 Die Laan Pinotage (R75). It was good to return home with a pleasant wine taste in my mouth!

The course (excellent value at R420) gave me all the learning I wanted and all that a passionate wine enthusiast needs to know. The chemistry was sufficient and of interest to explain the underlying processes that make wine faulty. I had some pre-learning having completed (and passed) the Certificate in Wine Evaluation Short Course in June, also provided by the Viticulture and Oenology Department of Stellenbosch University. The Faulty Wine Course did what the Evaluation Course did not – and that was to be guided to see, smell and taste the common wine faults. I would advise anyone who wishes to learn more about faulty wines to do the Cape Wine Academy course first and then, if you wish to consider a hobby or career in wine evaluation or judging, to do the Short Course after.

I hope to continue my studies with Dr Wessel du Toit in future. He runs a 2½ day garagiste course twice a year. Regrettably, I had to cancel my course booking later this month as the dates clashed with my Cape Wine Academy Diploma training. Meanwhile, I shall follow Dr du Toit on Face Book. He must have one of the coolest profile names ever: TheWineProf!

You Might Also Like

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Speed Tasting with Sommelier ‘Royalty’ at my First SASA Meeting

Champagne and Brandies left Me Disappointed

More Still at Tanagra

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

On the Left, but then on the Right …

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Altitudes with Wine!

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Red Chair in the Morning

More-ish Wines at Môreson

The Ladies in Red

Au Revoir France!

An Early Start at Rietvallei

Judge and be Judged!

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Being Creative at Flagstone

Little Did I Know What I Had Started – A New Passion

Well Hosted and Enjoyable – Even Though I did not Experience at its Best

Marching into France

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

Great Value in the Swartland

Around the (Old) World in 18 Hours – starting with the European Cuvée!

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Yanky Doodle Dave Didn’t Bring all the Wines

Colmant Sparkled

Cork and Talk with Dave

Diploma Done and Dusted – But for the Final Result – I Passed!

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

Same but Different End to the Diploma Lectures

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

Brut Force and Less Ignorance

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

More than Just a Destination


Dave Goes Down Under and the Wines Go Up


A Cape Wine Master-class

No Blues at Hillcrest

Quoin Rock Gently Roars at Knorhoek

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Fish (and other foods) with Wanda!

Of Female Rugby Players and Ballet Dancers! Let’s Continuously Study Very Seriously: Wines of the Loire and Northern Rhône

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Red, Red (Spanish) Wine

Mutual Attraction

Boutique de Brendel

Wine can be so Humbling

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Taking the Garage into the Classroom

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Very Cape Wines at Capaia

Wines Merely to Lust After

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

From South Africa to a Whole New (and Old) World

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

It’s High Time Again

Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Cheers to Lemon Squirt Acidity and Puppy Dog Breath!

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

Villion Pairs with Barton in Bot Rivier

Beyond Expectation

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

How to Taste Wine©

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen


In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Wine and Food Pairing – 10 Points ©

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Iconic Steenberg

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson


Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

No Black Marks at Raka

What Is Over the Legal Limit? Some Surprising, Scary Thoughts for Tasting and Drinking

Individual Quality at Jordan

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *