We’ve all heard of corked wine. Right? We know it’s something bad, but we may have never experienced it ourselves, or perhaps we didn’t know that we were experiencing it. Today we will explore the mysteries behind corked wines.
What Corked Wine or Corkiness Is
Corked wine is a wine that has been contaminated by a chemical called trichloroanisole (TCA). This happens when little microorganisms eat the cork, while it’s still part of the tree or after it’s been turned into an actual wine cork. When these airborne fungi come in contact with the cork and create a substance known as TCA, a nasty chemical compound can ruin the wine the second the wine in the bottle comes in contact with it.
What Corkiness Tastes and Smells Like
WineEnthusiast has a great description for this sad wine: “Ever sit down, pour yourself a glass of wine and have it smell reminiscent of a wet newspaper or moldy basement? Or swirled a glass of wine and noticed it smelled muted, or like nothing at all? If so, chances are your wine was cork tainted, or more commonly, ‘corked.’”
Here are other descriptive aroma words (actually, smell is probably a better word to use here): dank, moldy basement; wet newspaper; a wet dog.
When you sip the wine, it will be flat and dull, exhibiting no fruit characteristics.
What Corkiness Isn’t
The word cork makes you think of the device that goes into the wine bottle. So, if you see crystals on a cork, you might decide that the bottle is corked. It actually isn’t. Corks often have white crystals, which are known as tartare. The affectionate name for tartare is wine diamonds. They are a natural by-product of some wines and are harmless.
You might think that a wine bottle that doesn’t have a cork can’t be corked. Again, not true. According to Dobianchi.com, “Corkiness isn’t just cork taint. The more important telltale sign of a corked wine is the absence of fruit — even when there is no cork taint.”
They go on to say that “a slight fissure, even invisible to the eye, can allow oxygen to be introduced into the bottle. The same thing holds with cork because the tree bark used to make corks is a porous material that can allow small amounts of oxygen to be introduced into the bottle. And different types of taint — even TCA — can come into contact with the wine without affecting the cork itself. That’s why a cork-sealed bottle can be corked even when the cork doesn’t smell tainted. Screw-caps have undeniably helped to deliver more robust fitness in wine today. But as I see it, opening a bottle of wine is always a gamble.”
Here, Dobianchi is introducing us to the concept that unwanted oxygen exposure can result in an unpleasant tasting experience similar to that of corked wine.
Words to the Wise
While drinking corked wine can be harmful to your ego, it’s not harmful to your health. But it’s an unpleasant tasting experience, and nine times out of 10, you can return the tainted wine for a replacement bottle.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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