WINE 101

How To Tell If A Wine Is Corked

The fear of any tasting! Have you ever opened a bottle and recognized the defect of cork taste?

What is a corked wine?

A corked wine is one that has been contaminated with cork taint, and this contamination gives off a very distinct smell and taste. Cork taint occurs in a small percentage of all natural corks available in the world, with recent studies finding that only about 5% of wines with natural corks are actually corked.

How does this even happen?

The culprit is just that . . . cork! And it’s important to note that this problem is almost always caused by corks. It is very rare that twist-cap bottles or bottles sealed with plastic closures are affected by such issues. However, such bottles might be susceptible to premature oxidation.

It is a defect in wine caused by the TCA molecule (trichloroanisole) that alters its taste and deteriorates it.

No wine is immune to this unpredictable and often inexplicable incident, while the most thorough care has been administered by the winemaker.

The reasons:

  • The quality of the cork chosen. The defect may be due to parasites living in the bark of cork oaks. It is a shame to save money on this material itself, which is as precious as wine. Its production being in decline.
  • Moulds developed in the cells of cork in the presence of chlorinated compounds, chlorophenols (which may come from the bark of trees polluted by insecticides, from the air or from products used in the cellars).
  • Moulds may be due to unintentional handling: bottles must always be laid down to prevent the cork from drying out. It is very bad to leave the bottles standing and lying down several times in succession. Your bottles must therefore be stored lying down so that the cork is permanently moistened and prevent too much air from entering the bottle. Keeping a bottle of wine standing to avoid contact between the cork and the wine doesn’t prevent the taste of cork.

How to tell if a wine is corked?

The presence of this molecule gives the wine an unpleasant smell of rotten wood, musty, dusty. In the mouth, a wet cardboard taste with a strong cork aroma.

It is not bad for your health, but the wine is just unfit for drinking because it is too unpleasant.

What to do with a corked wine?

A fully corked wine is undrinkable. There is no effective way to eradicate this defect in wine.

Few options are available to you:

  • A simmered dish? Only if the defect is not too pronounced and the cooking is long to reduce the defect (for red wines: beef bourguignon, coq au vin…; for white wines: blanquette de veau, white sauce with fish). A wine that is too corked can spoil sauces.
  • Vinegar? No: The defect doesn’t disappear during fermentation…. Unless you use white vinegar to wash the windows.
  • Empty the wine into the sink.
  • Be sure to discard the cap to avoid further contamination.
  • In restaurants, ask to change the bottle at the first sign of suspicion.
  • Contact the seller.

A corky taste with one of our wine when you open it? Please feel free to call us!

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