What Does Corked Mean?

Have you ever wondered why people swirl, sniff and taste a wine before they begin drinking it? It’s not because they are pretentious and trying to look sophisticated, they are actually trying to detect whether a bottle of wine is corked.

What is corked wine?

You may be wondering what a corked wine is, in the simplest of terms it’s a bottle of wine that has gone bad before it is opened. Now this is really dumbing down what it really is so I’m going to give you the more complicated answer too.

Corked wine or cork taint is usually caused when a cork is contaminated with  TCA (2,4,6- trichloroanisole), though sometimes other factors can cause a wine to be corked. A wine with cork taint is perfectly safe to drink but it drastically changes the normal characteristic of the wine.  It only takes a very minuscule amount of TCA on a cork to ruin a bottle of wine; we’re talking parts per trillion and depending on the amount of TCA present it may not be obvious a wine has been tainted. Approximately 3% to 5% of corks are tainted, depending on whom you talk to (some say more then that other say it’s less then that).

How can I tell if a wine is corked?

So if 5% of wine is tainted why haven’t I ever had a corked wine before? Chances are you have.  A lot of times people drink corked wines and think, I just didn’t like this bottle, when in all actuality the bottle was slightly tainted. Don’t get me wrong just because you don’t like a wine doesn’t mean it’s corked, sometimes you just don’t like a certain wine. I like to give wines a second chance just to be sure.

A very tainted wine will have a strong smell of wet or molded cardboard and will be nearly unpalatable. The less TCA present the less obvious the smell will be and the more drinkable the wine will be.  You won’t always be able to tell when a wine is corked but now you know what to look for.

What do I do if I get a corked bottle?

If you did get a corked bottle of wine you can send it back in a restaurant or return it to the store it was purchased from.

*Note: If the bottle has more then a little wine missing they probably will no give you your money back.


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Posted on April 21, 2011, in did you know, Helpful tips, Wine Terms and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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