Ask A Wino – Corked?

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james hall1
Oh look. It’s Wine O’ Clock! James Wall shares a great tip with us on every Wednesday. Read on to see what his advice is this week and in case you missed James’ previous Q&A’s, just type ‘Wino Wednesday’ in the search bar. Happy Wine’in!

Q: What Does Corked Mean?

A: I know what you might be thinking, and no, corked’ does not mean that you haven’t uncorked it, instead, it’s a term used for wine that has become tainted or contaminated. This can often make wine smell and taste a little questionable’¦think soggy, rotten cardboard.

Why does this happen? To get a little technical, it’s all thanks to a chemical compound called 2,4,6-trichloranisole (better known at TCA) a contaminant found on faulty corks. When the naturally occurring fungus found on cork reacts with cleaning and sanitization practices used in wineries, it sometimes produces a damp, musty smell.

The best way to tell if you wine has been affected by cork taint is by using your senses. First, try smelling it. If it reminds you of a dirty gym sock then it’s most likely been corked. Sometimes smells can be a little more subtle so take your time, take a big whiff and trust your senses.

If that doesn’t work there’s always the taste test. If you have even the slightest inkling of cork-taint a quick sip will most definitely confirm any suspicion. While cork taint is not harmful to humans, low levels of TCA can kill wine’s aroma and flavor leaving it tasting moldy and old. BUZZKILL’¦.literally.

If you suspect that your newly opened bottle of wine has been corked most retailers will gladly exchange it for a new bottle. In a restaurant the same rules generally apply — just as long as you haven’t finished the bottle first! Explain the situation to a manager or sommelier and they should be able to tell if your bottle is corked right away.