WHAT IS A CORKED WINE?
A “corked” wine is a wine that has become tainted by the presence of TCA (trichloroanisole), rendering it pretty much undrinkable, unless of course you’re into the aromas and flavors of damp cardboard, or a wet dog?
HOW DOES A WINE BECOME CORKED?
TCA, or Trichloroanisole is a natural by-product of a common airborne fungus (found in corks) and is formed when this fungi comes in contact with certain chlorides typically found in bleaches and other winery sanitation/sterilization products.
TCA can be transferred from the cork to the wine, or through the cork to the wine.
Studies have shown that between 7-8% of wines bottled with natural cork can fall victim to cork taint.
IS IT SAFE TO DRINK CORKED WINE?
Good news! Though the intended aromas and flavors of a “corked” wine are significantly impaired, and in most cases the wine is pretty darn unpalatable, drinking a “corked” wine is harmless.
HOW TO DETECT A CORKED WINE
Follow these three common sense rules of thumb and you’ll be sitting pretty:
Rule 1: If it smells bad, don’t drink it
If it smells like damp cardboard, a wet dog or musty sweaters – don’t drink it! It’s probably “corked”. And NO, don’t smell the cork! It’s a myth! Smell the wine instead! Smelling the cork is no indication of a tainted wine. The only indication a cork can provide is: (a) whether the wine was stored properly, (b) who produced it and (c) the vintage year.
Rule 2: If it tastes bad, stop drinking it
This one is a bit of a no brainer. If you don’t like the taste of something, why would you continue drinking it?! Now, this may not necessarily mean that the wine is “corked”, but if it does taste like damp cardboard, it probably is!
Rule 3: Always ask questions
Don’t be shy. If you have questions, or suspect a wine may be “corked”, speak up! Have it changed immediately. Most fine retailers and restaurants will graciously exchange a bottle, or glass of wine that appears to be “corked”.