Corked Wine: How to Tell When a Wine is Corked

corked wine, wine faults, wine corks, tca

What is Corked Wine?

Corked wine describes wine tainted with the chemical compound TCA (2, 4, 6- trichloroanisole). The flaw is most easily detected by aromas of wet dog or wet cardboard on the nose and palate of the wine. It’s more difficult to detect this smell on the cork. TCA mutes the vibrancy and fruit aromas of a wine, leaving the wine lackluster and stale.

If a wine is corked, then it’s irreversibly flawed and should not be consumed. Consumption of a wine with TCA is not dangerous to humans. However, this wine fault is quite disgusting, although each individual’s sensitivity to the flaw varies widely.

How Does it Happen?

The chemical compound is almost always introduced to the wine via the cork. This occurs when TCA comes in contact with chlorine, which is sometimes used as a by-product in cleaning products at wineries. Though many modern-day wineries choose to forgo products which may affect the wine. Nevertheless, 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 and should return it in most cases. The standard for restaurants and retailers is to accept returned bottles. Once you discover the wine is faulty, do not pour out the wine. Re-cork the bottle and leave it full when you return it. This gives the winery, wine shop, or restaurant 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, for cooking purposes use a wine that’s been open too long.
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