You Got Corked!

Let me set the scene.

You over slept this morning. You spilled your coffee when the dog clobbered you with his muddy paws. You make it to work just in time to catch a snide remark from your boss. Then, on your way home, Mr. Policeman uses his blue lights to remind you that the speed limit is only 60 mph. It’s been a tough day, to say the least. But none of that matters now. Because you’re on your way home, and you have a beautiful Cabernet calling your name.

Ahhhh, home at last. It’s time to settle in and relax away this terrible day. You light a candle, turn on some jazz and find your corkscrew. Anticipation builds as you ceremoniously cut, twist and pop the cork. This is going to be fantastic. Your glass is poured, you give it a whirl and plunk your nose inside the glass. Hmm, smells odd. You wonder if that is what they meant by earthy notes. You take your first sip and proclaim… “Oh. My. God. It tastes like sweaty feet… And do I detect faint notes of Grandpa’s old moldy basement as well?”

 

 

 

You my friend just experienced a “corked” wine.

Now, if you are new to the wine world, you may have been under the impression that a “corked” wine referred to being sealed with a cork instead of a twist-top. That would make sense, but the term “corked” or “corky” is a slang term used to described the tell-tale musty taste of wine tainted by Trichloroanisole (TCA). There is no need to worry if you happened to take a swig of wet dog flavored wine – TCA is not harmful to your health.

At this point, you may be wondering how this happened to your wine. You did everything right: Avoided light, kept it cool and stored the bottle on its side. Heck, you even made sure to turn it regularly. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much you could do because your bottle was doomed the moment it was sealed. In fact, some experts say that as many as 8% of wines sealed with traditional cork are tainted with TCA. The sponge-like nature of cork makes it highly vulnerable to naturally occurring fungi found on the bark of cork trees. The fungi, when exposed to the chlorine used during sterilization, produces the chemical funk known as 2,4,6-Trichloroanisol (TCA). It’s a big word that causes big problems for winemakers. A problem to the tune of $200 million dollars a year. That’s right; Experts estimate that upwards of $200 Million Dollars worth of wine is lost each year, due to TCA contamination. It’s no wonder we have seen a trend towards alternative sealing methods like synthetic cork and screw cap tops.

 

corks

 

“Corked” wine doesn’t discriminate. Red or white, cheap or expensive – It doesn’t matter, if it has a natural cork, it is susceptible to TCA taint. So, the next time you’re in the market for a bottle of wine don’t be scared away by the bottles with screw caps.

Have you ever been corked? Let us know your experience.