What does it mean when a wine is “corked’?

When someone says a wine is “corked,” they are referring to a wine fault caused by a chemical compound called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). This compound can develop in natural corks when certain fungi come into contact with chlorinated compounds, such as those found in some cleaning agents or pesticides used in cork processing facilities or wineries.

When a wine is corked, it has been contaminated with TCA, resulting in a range of undesirable characteristics that negatively impact its aroma and flavor.

The most common descriptors for a corked wine include:

Musty or Moldy Smell: The wine may have a damp, musty, or moldy odor. This smell is often likened to wet cardboard, old books, or a dank cellar.

Lack of Fruit Aromas: Cork taint suppresses the wine’s natural fruit aromas and makes the wine smell dull and lifeless.

Flattened or Diluted Flavor: TCA can diminish the wine’s flavors, making it taste flat or diluted, with little complexity or nuance.

Dry and Astringent Finish: Corked wines can leave the mouth feeling dry, astringent, or puckered due to the chemical interactions caused by TCA.

It’s important to note that a wine being “corked” is different from the presence of sediment or the gradual aging and maturation of the wine, which can sometimes be mistaken for a fault. Cork taint is considered a defect in the wine, and it is estimated that a small percentage of wines sealed with natural corks can be affected by TCA.

If you suspect a wine is corked, it’s best to bring it to the attention of the server or sommelier if you are in a restaurant or contact the wine retailer if you purchased it from a store. In many cases, they will be willing to replace the bottle or offer an alternative selection. At Crush Bottleshop, we ask that you bring the unfinished wine and cork back to the shop and we will replace it with a new bottle of the same wine.

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