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Amber wine, only corked

I went out for dinner with some friends to a(n otherwise excellent) Georgian Restaurant last night. I order a bottle of a Qvivri and Oak ages amber/orange wine. As soon as I tasted it I got an undertone of wet cardboard that screamed TCA to me. I asked our waiter if he could check if it was OK, which he did by getting the owner, who rather bluntly told me it was amber wine and supposed to taste like that. I’ve had a few Georgian ambers (quite a few of which have had far more Brett than I’d like!) but I’ve never come across this TCA as a this is what it’s supposed to be like. Has anyone else come across this??

I should add that they did replace the wine (but with something else because we didn’t like it rather than with another bottle of what we’d ordered because it was corked) so this is in no way me knocking the customer service at the restaurant.

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Trust your judgment. You tasted TCA, and presumably have experience of corked wine. So if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

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Hi Patrick
Can you tell me the precise details of the wine please? I will buy a bottle try it and post my thoughts. I can then give you an informed reply

There’s absolutely nothing in amber wine that might be confused with TCA, but it is not unknown for people to play the “you don’t understand these wines” card with them.

Being orange is not an excuse for the wine being oxidised either - or the view that all amber wines are oxidised. The flavours are quite distinct.

What was the restaurant?

On a pedantic point, I can’t help but admire the placing of the opening bracket in your first sentence :slight_smile:

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Patrick, if you smelt and tasted TCA then it had TCA. I have also enjoyed Georgian, skin contact Qveri wines and no, TCA is not a feature. Trust your palate, you’ve drank enough wine to know when it’s not right.

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My most recent bad experience with wine in a restaurant was with a bottle of 4 kilos 12 volts which was corked (low level but badly fruit scalped) which the wine waiter insisted ‘no, it’s natural, it’s the way it tastes’. I offered to take a second bottle and pay for both if it was the same - a slightly risky strategy - but he insisted it wasn’t faulty. In the end I had something else. Spoiled the whole experience though.

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Such a shame , I quite like the rusticity of that wine . Pity the restaurant behaved in that way .

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I was sufficiently concerned that I purchased a bottle of it retail to check I wasn’t misguided. I wasn’t!

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That’s one of the things that gives natural wines a bad rep. Makes my blood boil.

Even with the most tolerant attitude towards “faults” in wine, cork taint is totally unacceptable - and absolutely nothing to do with natural winemaking. Oxidation, VA, brett maybe, and one can discuss where the line should be drawn - but corkiness never.

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Thanks for the pep talk everybody. It was corked.

That ultra corked 2003 Batailley I had at Christmas 2020 really is a gift that keeps on giving in terms of being able to identify TCA. I knew I’d identified it but got second guessed by the “it’s supposed to taste like that”.

@SteveSlatcher the restaurant was the imaginatively named “The Georgian” on Clapham High Street.

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Thank you. I was thinking of going there on a visit to London, but was waylaid when I discovered an Ethopian restaurant much closer to where I was staying.

Not sure if your story has put me off or not. “Good Georgian food” vs “potentially being bullshitted by the owner”.

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While it was good enough that I will go again at some point there are nicer places to eat in the area. I’d go with the Ethiopian.

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The Ethiopian place was not smart, but very good, and very reasonably priced. It was my introduction to that cuisine.

Georgian wine and food I know quite well, but I’d usually be up for trying any restaurant In Britain that serves it

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My problem with amber and orange wines or white very low intervention wines/aka Natural wines is that they so frequently suffer from bottle variation. Winemakers of the above types of wines are in reality, when applying their philosophy of approach, taking away all the safety nets that help to prevent spoilage. They are in other words taking risks. The result is their winemaking always courts disaster. Their winemaking is always so close to the edge of allowing faults to occur that some bottles slip over the edge. Some start to re-ferment in the bottle, some oxidize very quickly. Sometimes it happens to a whole batch sometimes it happens just to the odd bottle.
it is I suppose all part of winemaking’s rich tapestry.

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Is there a difference between amber and orange wines, or is it just a matter of perceived colour?

There is an excellent Georgian restaurant in East Dulwich called Kartuli that also has a wine shop. I’ve been a couple of times and ask the owner for a wine match as otherwise if be guessing. Always interesting to try something new.

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Arguing with the sommelier over whether a wine is faulty probably represents some sort of fear for the average restaurant-goer. At my stage in life I wouldn’t (and don’t) hesitate to draw it to their attention, and fortunately the sommelier has always agreed with my diagnosis when that has occurred. But maybe my ugly and sinister appearance has put them off any course of disagreement…

I digress. What I wanted to add was that in the case of corked wines, human sensitivity to trihaloanisoles varies markedly from person to person. I was once at a wine dinner where a very experienced winemaker pronounced an obviously corked (to me) wine to be fine. Somebody else could even smell the corked taint from across the table! So sensitivity varies. Whether the restaurant owner was having you on in the original post I can’t say, but I think it’s worth bearing all this in mind.

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It’s a colour perception thing. Personally I prefer the term amber as to my perception the wine is more amber than orange. It’s also just a prettier description to me.

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I believe they’re the wine importers as well. They’re definitely the suppliers for this restaurant I was at (post googling for the wine). I may drag myself down to Dulwich to try it out.

Amber is the preferred term as some uninformed people read “orange” and conclude that the wine is made from…oranges. So amber is a term adopted for the avoidance of doubt.

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