Some Faults Are Good Things


A good friend of mine loves big, tannic red wines. (A wine with “ass,” as he’d so delicately put it.) He also likes it when the wine has an earthy, musty quality. He once described this quality as “basement like.”

Now, many readers will know that “basement like” or a musty, cardboard smell is a clear sign that the wine has been tainted or “corked.” We’ll leave the chemistry aside because the fault is not the point of the post. The drinker is.

For my friend, this quality in a wine is a good thing. It reminds him of something positive. It gives the wine a character that he finds attractive. And right there we find the most important word in this article.


What makes something attractive to one person may make it undesirable to (the majority of) others. But that fact, in no way, changes the individual’s experience of the wine. If you like your wines to have a baked, toffee quality, you might like slightly oxidized wines (wines that were exposed to the air via a defective cork). You may like funky, barnyard smells. You might like a little tangy vinegar quality in your wine. All of these aspects might be considered faults. But so what?

Tastevin (TASS-tee-vahn)

Tastevin (TASS-tee-vahn)

Once upon a time, a sommelier used to taste a wine before serving it to guests at a restaurant. Today, few restaurants do this. The primary reason is that they don’t want to create an uncomfortable situation in which a guest would feel like they have to challenge the somm’s opinion. But another reason is, that “faulty” wine may contain an aroma or flavor that the guest actually likes.

Moral of the story? Most writers will tell you that imperfections make characters more interesting. I say that the same is true with wine.

If someone doesn’t understand why you like wine the way you do, it’s their fault, not yours (or the wine’s).

If you love it, drink it!

The SWIRLosopher is Sean Trapani, a professor emeritus of advertising who - despite a degree in philosophy - has abandoned all reason and is trying to make a living in the wine business.

Ape Artwork (c) 2014 Walter Moore, used with permission.