Nenad Trifunovic

Corked Wine – once you smell it, you never forget it

top view of fresh mushrooms champignon

The scenario is this… You keep that bottle of Romanée-Conti well stored for years and decades, only to open it and discover it is corked. This is one of the worst nightmares for wine lovers. 

And it is all completely natural. The chemical compound responsible is called 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, or shorter – TCA. It is formed by a fungus which naturally resides in cork. It seems the sterilization of the cork makes the otherwise harmless fungi to form this compound and infect the cork and the wine it preserves.

This infection, harmless for human health, is lethal for the wine. Cork taint makes the wine useless.champagne cork

Is my wine corked?

One of the worst experiences is a “slightly corked” wine. It’s that tingling sensation that freezes you in the moment when you realize – this wine is not supposed to open up like this. But you are not quite sure it is corked, because it might be a recent development, so the wine is perhaps not yet infected or it could be one of those one-in-a-thousand cases of extreme reduction that appears like cork taint at first. Since TCA infection is, unlike Covid-19, not tested frequently, the only truth teller here is the time. In time, the smell will intensify and soon you won’t be able to taste or smell anything, apart from cork taint. When this happens, even anosmia doesn’t sound that bad.

How does a corked wine taste?

As cork taint does not taste and smell like cork, it is often described as damp and soggy cardboard or a wet dog, but impressions are always individual.

When a wine is heavily infected, you will immediately sense something is very wrong. Nobody is that insensitive, and once you smell it, you’ll never forget it. 

And if you still desire to taste it – flat, dull and fruitless is how corked wines are usually described. corks

What to do with a corked wine?

Sooner or later, it will happen to everybody who consumes wines. A corked bottle of wine is nobody’s fault. It used to happen more frequently than today, it seems. But, we are talking about very low percentages anyway.

In the end, if you purchase a corked bottle at Wine&More, you can always ask us to replace the bottle. Just put the cork back in the bottle, preferably more full than emptied 🙂 and send it back.uncorking

Common misunderstandings about “corked wines”

This notion of “corked wine” is so widely spread that there are many misconceptions:

  1. Tiny pieces of cork floating around in your glass usually indicate somebody opened the bottle aggressively or the cork is of poor quality. This is not a corked wine.
  2. Little crystals “glued” to a cork are called tartrate, or “wine diamonds”, and are completely harmless natural occurrence in some wines, most often if the wine was cooled down too fast. This is not a corked wine.
  3. The cork itself can smell “funny” for various reasons, but you should concentrate on the wine in a glass. Although there are experienced tasters who can detect TCA by smelling the cork, this practice can be misleading and pretentious. The unpleasant smell of the cork does not mean the wine is corked.
  4. Bottles closed with screw caps or synthetic cork actually can be corked! Most likely they will not be corked, because our friend, the fungus, needs natural cork to thrive. However, it is not inconceivable that the entire wine cellar is infected to the point where it spreads the infection into bottles. But, let’s not get corky about it, because…

Corked wines are a rare misfortune. Incomparable to the joy an uncorked wine brings 😉

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