Corked Wine: How to Tell When a Wine is Corked

What is Corked Wine?

“Corked” wine describes wine that has been tainted with the chemical compound TCA (2, 4, 6- trichloroanisole). The flaw is most easily detected by aromas of wet dog & cardboard on the nose and palate, rather than a smell of cork. Corked wine also mutes the vibrancy and fruit on a wine, leaving the wine lackluster and stale. “Corked” wines are irreversibly flawed and should not be consumed (it’s not dangerous to humans but it is very disgusting), although each individual’s sensitivity to the flaw varies widely.

How does it Happen?

The chemical compound is almost always exposed to the wine via the cork. It occurs when TCA comes in contact with chlorine, which is sometimes used as a by-product is cleaning products at wineries. While many modern-day wineries have chosen to forgo products that may affect the wine, about 1 in every 5 bottles is corked.

What should I do if my wine is corked?

If you find yourself with a corked bottle, you can return it in most cases. It is standard for restaurants and retailers to accept returned bottles. Leave the bottle full when you return it, so that they may have an opportunity to taste the “health” of the wine (I.e. presence of flaws). Other flaws, such as Brettanomyaces and VA, are common in certain styles of wine and may even be desirable to some wine lovers. The taste of corked wine is not removed by cooking it; instead, use wine that has been open too long. -AT
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