Drinking wine is meant to be a pleasurable experience. However, there are some times where persons may encounter a bad wine that may just be chalked up to a “bad batch”, when in fact you could be in possession of a corked wine. Although a small percentage of wines become corked, one should still be knowledgeable about what corked wine is and how to tell if wine is corked.
What is corked wine?
A corked wine is a wine that has been contaminated with cork taint. Cork taint is said to affect about 2-3% of bottled wines, which equates to about a bottle in every 2 cases of wine. This taint occurs when little microorganisms, which are airborne fungi, feed off the natural cork. When they come into contact with the cork, they create a substance known as TCA, which essentially ruins the wine. Additionally, TCA is formed when these fungi come into contact with certain chlorides found in bleaches and sterilization products that may be used in wineries. TCA can affect an entire cellar or winery and not just a single batch of corks. As a result, most wineries today have ceased using chlorine based cleaning products.
How to tell if a wine is corked
Cork taint gives the wine a very distinct smell and taste. Here are a few tips for determining if a wine is corked:
- Firstly, the wine bottle must have a cork in order for the wine to even have the possibility of being corked.
- The wine has a smell similar to a dank and moldy basement, a wet newspaper, a wet dog or a soggy, wet or rotten cardboard.
- Corked wine also has a musty smell.
- The wine tastes flat and dull, and has no discernible fruity characteristics.
- The smell of cork taint can be quite strong or sometimes it is barely noticeable, as it depends on the extent of the cork taint, and the drinker’s sensitivity to it.
Can corked wine become uncorked?
Scientists have determined that if you let the wine soak in a pitcher with a bundle of plastic wrap for about 15 minutes, and then pour it into a new container, that the cork taint can be removed. It is important that the plastic wrap used in this process contain PVDC, which is said to cling to the TCA molecules and pull them from the wine. Ideally, although drinking corked wine will not harm you physically, you should always return any suspected corked wine.
It may not be that easy to detect corked wine given the varying levels of TCA that may have infected your wine, but this article will help you to identify if your wine has been a victim. Also, if you or your drinking partner have decent smell sensitivity then you should be able to tell in most cases if you have encountered a corked wine.
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