Corked wine…? Doesn’t wine normally come with a cork? Whaaaat? Is this when the wine has little bits of cork floating in it…?
No. When you hear the term “the wine is corked” it is referring to wine that has been contaminated with cork taint.
Last week I shared my favorite wine gadgets and tools, and last week I also opened a bottle of wine that was corked.
Contrary to what it sounds like, cork taint doesn’t taste like cork. It will, however, make your wine smell and taste like a damp basement or a wet dog. Neither of those things are very nice. When the waiter offers you the cork and expects that you will inspect it and sniff it, you can usually already smell if the wine is corked.
There is a chemical compound called TCA (2,4,6 – trichloroanisole, if you care about the science-y aspect of it.) TCA is formed when natural fungi (which can reside in cork) come in contact with certain chemicals, bleaches and other sanitation and sterilization products that wineries need to use. The wine becomes tainted if the winery uses the infected corks.
This is a pretty serious problem for the winery, because TCA can contaminate an entire cellar or winery, not just a single bottle. Most wineries have totally eliminated the use of chlorine based clearing products because TCA can be so difficult to get rid of.
Cork taint can’t hurt you, but it ruins your bottle of wine… and who wants that!? I mentioned that I opened a bottle of wine the other night and it was corked. (If you follow me on Instagram you already saw me complaining about it.) I returned the bottle to the store where I purchased it. They took it back without question. Note: It is best to not try and return a mostly empty bottle… They offered to replace it with a new bottle, but I declined. If one bottle was corked, chances are the others in that shipment were as well.
Life is short. If the wine isn’t good, don’t drink it!