Sometimes you may get a bad bottle of wine. Review the below guidelines and have a different bottle on hand just in case you grapes have gone sour and always taste your wine first before serving it to your date.
For the most part your taste buds determine if a wine is good or bad. However, there are a few factors that can ruin a bottle of wine, no matter how good it was meant to be.
Bad Cork: This is the most frequent cause of bad wine. A wine is corked when it has been in contact with a cork infected with a fungus that produces 1,2,4-trichloroanisole, otherwise known as TCA. It is this chemical, rather than the fungus itself, that imparts the unpalatable flavors to the wine, such as moldy, cardboard and even wet dog hair comes to mind. Nevertheless, cork taint continues to spoil up to 5% of all bottles of wine.
Hot Bottle: If your wine is exposed to heat, it may actually taste cooked or burnt. Also, the cork may begin to leak wine! Don't put wine in the trunk of your car on a hot summer day. Bad storage is the reason here.
Exposure to Air: Once you open that bottle, drink it! Make sure you tell her that. The more your wine is exposed to air, the flatter and weaker it will taste. Re-corking isn’t good enough – and even those new vacuum sealers on the market can’t guarantee you’re wine will stay fresh. The second-best advice I got was to put the wine in a bottle or Tupperware so that the volume of wine left is the exact volume of the container – this ensures your wine does not touch any air from the time the lid closes until it reopens. The best advice? Finish the wine!
However, a bottle is not bad just because you don't like the wine. Wine is very subjective. There are many variations in wine-making style, so a bottle that doesn't suit your preferences is not necessarily defective.
A bottle is not bad because the label is damaged. Most wine travels thousands of miles to get to you, and there are plenty of opportunities for bumping and grinding (which is what you hope to be doing later that night). Likewise, in a cellar where thousands of bottles are stored together, one bottle can break, leaking wine onto hundreds of others. This does not affect the wine inside the intact bottles.
A bottle is not bad just because it has little white crystals accumulated at the bottom or adhering to the cork. These crystals (called tartrate) are a natural by-product of unfiltered, unprocessed fine wines and are totally harmless.
A bottle is not "corked" just because it has bits of cork in it (all this means is that an inexperienced waiter or you, pushed the corkscrew all the way through the cork, thus forcing pieces into the wine) or because it has an unsightly or even moldy cork. The term corked has a very specific meaning, please see above.
To learn how to pronounce different types of wine, read this article.
For a wine 101 guide, check out this article.
Read up on toasting Etiquette.