I visited a winery recently because it had been mentioned in Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. Every winery I’ve visited from that book has turned out well. Except for this one.
The tasting room associate poured me my first glass and immediately I knew something was wrong–instead of smelling of red or black fruit, it smelled like a wet dog. I smelled Randy’s glass and it was the same, but less pronounced.
While the “wet dog” smell can be attributed to the yeast brettanomyces, it seems more often than not, it comes from bacteria on an unclean glass. If you’ve ever drunk a glass of milk with a funky odor, you know what I’m talking about. On wine glasses, this smell happens when wine and cheese mix one too many times.
This doesn’t happen at reputable wine restaurants, but I’ve come across it many times at wine bars who serve their product with cheese. I’m guessing the restaurants regularly use some kind of sanitation rinse, while the bars do not. It’s an endless source of frustration for me–having to ask for a new glass, only to find that the second is not much better.
At said winery, I could see in the back that they were just washing their glasses with a sponge and dishsoap. Some people don’t even believe in that, opting instead to rinse out their glasses with plain water. I don’t know how this works–layers of mouth and cheese bacteria accumulating over time? No thanks.
In order to avoid this problem at home, I rinse my glasses in a mild bleach solution every couple of months, which leaves them fresh and odorless. I’ve heard this is a terrible idea, but honestly, I can smell the nose a lot better in a bleached glass than one that’s covered in bacteria. I’m just sure to rinse it in water well.
Over at Wine Folly, Madeline Puckette agrees with me.
What’s your opinion on glass care? Is bleach ever okay?