How To Tell If Your Wine Is Corked


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?


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.


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.


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”.


El Dorado Special Reserve 15 Year Old Rum

Where I’m from on the planet, this Special Reserve Rum is legendary and arguablly better than some bottles 10 years older.

A 4-time consecutive winner of the Wray & Nephew Trophy for Best Rum in the World, this beauty is not easy to find locally, so whenever you do find one, I strongly recommend you pick it up before I get there!


Golden brown


Full nose, packed with coffee, dark chocolate, pepper and rich vanilla.


Incredibly smooth and silky, reminiscent of cognac


Crafted from 15 to 25 year old rums that are then blended and married together in bourbon oak casks, this now legendary rum is the king of  smoothness.  Drink it neat like fine cognac





County: Demerara
Country: Guyana, SA
Rum Maker: Demerara Distillers Ltd.
Age: 15 Years
Vintage: Special Reserve
Average Price: $45

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Smoking Loon Pinot Noir 2011

Smoking Loon wines are crafted on the premise that good wine shouldn’t have to take themselves so seriously.   Per the winemaker, they get their name from Don Sebastiani’s love of cigars and his father August’s passion for water fowl (I believe loons/ducks fall into this category)

This one happens to be one of my wife’s favorites under $10.  She used to call it Smokin’ Lion (long story)  No wonder I could never find this thing in the aisles.  Screams value buy!


Simple, clean looking.  Love the cool looking smoking loon somewhat hidden in the design.


Nice Ligh Purple.


Brigh fruity aroma of raspberries, strawberries, and cranberries.


Light finish, red fruit with a little spice.


At around $9, this one screams value.


It’s a casual, light everyday wine.  Pair it with everyday fare like Pizza, Burgers, Pastas, BBQ, Chinese Food (Yea I said it)


At a price point of about $9 per bottle you really can’t go wrong with this medium bodied wine. It’s consistant and goes with almost anything you throw at it!





OPI Score = 67  What’s This?

Vintage: 2011
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Region: N/A
State: California
Winemaker: Smoking Loon Wine Co.
Average Price: $9

Want your wine reviewed on Oakmonkey? Contact Us Now!

How To Taste Wine in 4 Basic Steps

So, everyone has their methods for tasting wine. Some good and some, not so good…

Well, fear not my friends, just follow these 4 basic guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to wine tasting stardom, or at least a friendlier seat in the tasting room.

1. Color (Look)
2. Nose (Smell)
3. Palate (Taste)
4. Finish (Aftertaste)

Or C.N.P.F as we like to abbreviate it!


A wine’s color can give a good indication of its age and the quality of its winemaking.

How to evaluate color

1. Fill the glass to 1/3 of its capacity
2. Hold the glass up to the light
3. Look at the wine from the rim edges to the middle of the glass. ps. A white backgrounds helps!

What to look for?

Reds – Young reds are frequently bright berry red, or purple. As reds age the color lightens, from dark purple or crimson red to brick or garnet, eventually becoming a brownish tinge.

Whites – Most dry whites are slightly yellow in color. A young white may exhibit pale-yellow-green hues. As it ages it will become a deeper gold, indicating richness and complexity. Dark shades in white wine indicate maturity.


About 80% of what we taste can be attributed to our sense of smell. In reality, we can only recognize 4 tastes (sweet, sour, salty and bitter) but can smell thousands of scents! Most of a wine’s taste comes from its aroma.

How to evaluate smell

1. Fill the glass to about 1/3 of its capacity
2. Tilt the top of the glass inward (to funnel the aroma)
3. Gently swirl the wine (oxygen encourages the release of aromas)
4. Take a nice whiff. Don’t be afraid to get your nose in there!

What to look for?

Is the aroma intense? Is it faint? Does the scent remind you any foods? Really, there are no hard a fast rules. Just have fun with it! Some common aromas include Earthy, Fruity, Floral, Nutty and Spicy


Generally speaking a wine’s taste should parallel its aroma.

How to evaluate taste

1. Take a small but comfortable amount in your mouth.
2. Make sure the wine is touching every part of your tongue
3. Try to draw in a bit of air, it helps further release the flavor
4. Let is sit in your mouth for at least 10 seconds
5. Make sure you taste the wine at least twice before judging the flavor

What to look for?

How was the texture? (heavy, or light), Can you taste notes of fruit? Oakiness from the wood? Is it flat (low in acid), or harsh? (too much acid), Is it sweet? Dry? Spicy? Plain? Is it astringent, or bitter? Some common tastes include Cherry, Plum, Raspberry and Pear.


A wine’s finish is how long the flavor impression lasts after it is swallowed.

How to evaluate finish

1. Let it sit in your mouth for at least 10 seconds
2. Taste it at least twice
3. Sit back and savor it for at least a minute before judging

4 Tips To Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Next Bottle of Wine

Can’t seem to catch a break when you buy a bottle of wine? Tired of your friends and passer-by sommeliers making fun of you because you just can’t seem to pick a winner?

Maybe you’re choosing great wines, but just not serving them the right way?

Here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of that next bottle:


Wines can be fussy and temperamental on a good day and need to be at the right temperature to be at their best. The temp you serve them at will affect their overall aroma, taste and perceived freshness.

Wines served too warm can taste unbalanced, flat and highly alcoholic. Wines served too cold can be considerably muted in flavor and aroma.

Quick tips:

  1. When drinking wines that need to be kept warmer, try cupping your hands around the body of the glass as your swirl
  2. When drinking wines that need to be kept cooler, always hold the glass by the stem to avoid warming them up too quickly

Below are suggested temperature ranges for wines by type:
Tart, bright white wines: 48-53 °F
Rich white wines, like an aged Chardonnay: 54-58 °F
Light red wines: 58-62 °F
Heavy red wines: 63-65 °F

2.  AIR

Wines are typically always improved with the introduction of air. It helps open up and release its flavors and aromas.

Quick tips:

Don’t just remove a cork/cap and let it sit in the bottle without pouring any of it out. You need increased surface area to properly induce air. If you want to leave it in the bottle to aerate that’s fine, just make sure you pour out about ½ of it to create some room in there for the wine to breathe

You don’t need a fancy decanter, or aeration/pouring device to add air to your wine. A simple glass container, pitcher, jar etc to pour it into will do just fine. Again the key is increased surface area to allow more air to make contact with your wine

A good general rule of thumb: the more tannins a wine has the more time it will need to aerate. Lighter-bodied reds have lower tannin levels so will need little if any time to breathe. Young wines with strong tannins will need more time to breathe. We like to let most wines sit for 10-15 minutes before drinking


We’re certainly not one’s for formality, heck, drink it straight from the bottle if that’s your style, but here’s why a great glass can make a difference:

Shape  The shape of a wine glass dictates surface area which influences the amount of air that can be introduced into a wine. Air affects the overall flavor, aroma and presentation that you experience

Rim  The shape and thickness of the rim can also play a part in your experience, directing the wine to specific parts of the tongue with different taste sensitivities

Diameter  The diameter of the glass opening can concentrate or expand the amount of aroma or bouquet that rises

 Quick tips:

  1. Go big if you can (20 ounces or more) – A large bowl gives that small pour plenty of room to breathe. Plus you want lots of room to swish and swirl
  2. Pick clear glass – You want to see the wine and excite all your senses. A thin glass is better than thick glass: you want to taste the wine not the glass and thick stemware can get heavy
  3. Long stem – Comfort is important and maximizes enjoyment
  4. Slight inward curve at the top – Helps to focus the aromas

Second Label Wines – Excellence and Value

Hey, being second ain’t so bad? The Godfather part 2, The Dark Knight, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Clay Aiken (Ok, you got me)

Most premier wine makers have what they call second labels. The idea is similar in concept to clothing designer second labels i.e. Armani / Armani Exchange.

The upshot for us, the consumer, is an excellent wine at an affordable price.


Second wine, or Second label wine (Second Vin) is a term commonly used to refer to wine made from cuvee not selected for use in the Grand Vin, or first label. An age-old practice traditionally associated with Bordeaux wines, though common all over the world today.


Typically only premier winemakers have second label wine offerings. In most instances, the production of a second label wine exactly mirrors the production of that estate’s Grand Vin, being made from the same vineyard, using the same blend of grapes, by the same winemaker. You can usually pick one of these gems up for around $20-$50.


Generally, second label wines are less polished and structured than the estate’s Grand Vin. Sometimes they’re from less-desirable vineyard blocks, use less-expensive or used barrels (or alternatives to barrels) and cheaper bottles, corks and labels. Most typically are made from the fruit that didn’t make the winemaker’s highest standards set for the Grand Vin.

Some premier winemaking estates may not even promote their second label wines. In some cases the parent estate is not even mentioned on the labels.


  1. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
  2. Meridian by Beringer
  3. Overture by Opus One
  4. Mouton Cadet by Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  5. Carruades de Lafite-Rothschild By Chateau Lafite-Rothschild