You don’t have to be a wine expert to spot a corked wine. Cork taint smells like wet newspaper, wet dogs, and musty basements. And the corked wine will often be discolored and slightly brownish. The flavor – if you get that far – will be flat, lifeless, and possibly vinegary. While corked wine isn’t harmful to drink, it basically ruins the taste. The chief cause is the presence in the wine of the chemical compounds TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole). In other words a corked wine is one that’s been contaminated by the cork. Cork taint occurs in wine when microorganisms that like to eat wood happen to come in contact with the cork. This airborne fungi produce the substance TCA, which destroy the wine as soon as it comes in contact with it. Generally this problem starts before the cork is even made. These fungi are present in the tree and can even contaminate the cork after it’s been processed and used to seal a bottle
This is a surprisingly common issue. In fact, some estimates state that as many as 5% of wines that use a cork as a sealer end up becoming corked wines.
Can you know If a wine is corked before open it?
Unfortunately, it’s simply not possible to tell if a wine is corked without opening the bottle. Corking doesn’t produce any sort of physical changes to the wine. Affect the taste and the smell only. Remember that it isn’t harmful to health. You can always return a bad bottle to your winery or in a restaurant. The professionals of the industry knows how a corked wine taste, and they will not hesitate to provide another bottle.
How the wineries are addressing the problem
Wineries have gone on the full offensive to prevent all sources of cork taint. They have created synthetic corks and screw caps and they have improved quality assurance and quality control methods. In addition, they have eliminated cleaning products which might introduce chlorophenols as well that they heat-treat wood to avoid using nasty antimicrobials.
At the same time, many cork producers are bleaching the corks with peroxide instead of chlorine as well as steam cleaning. Due to the continuing issues from tainted corks, by 2015, the wine industry change about 35% of its wines, to alternatives wine bottle closures.
Can you “save” the corked wine?
Although you can find some options to reduce the taste of corked wine, our recommendation is that you don’t even bother. Unless the wine is very vintage and you’ve been keeping it in the cellar for years. In this case, you can try the best-known solution.
You can use a plastic bag or a sheet of cling film. For this method the wine has to be decanted, i.e. transferred to a jar. Rolled up in the jar, the foil would absorb some of the taste of the cork. The problem with this method is that the foil sometimes gives a plastic taste. This technique only works for wines with little cork but is much less effective for others. In other words, try this only if it is a very expensive bottle that you bought many years ago. Otherwise, the best solution is to always return the bottle.
Can you cook with a corked wine?
You certainly wouldn’t want to drink it, but can be used for cooking? Well, sometimes we think that if we cooked, if we boiled, the taste or smell of the corked wine, will disappear. This is not true. There is a phrase that chefs uses quite often to answer this question, “If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.” Generally speaking, “bad” ingredients don’t result in a good dish. You can also cook with spoiled meat, rotten vegetables, or curdled milk. Will your dish taste amazing after that? I don’t think so.
On the other hand, you certainly can cook with some old wine. Even with a bottle that has been kept covered with a stopper or its original cork for 10 days. It would taste off if you poured it in a cup, but its signs of age would be undetectable in a stew, sauce, or reduction
This is because, during cooking, the wine loose alcohol content, and the wine’s fruity characteristics get lost in the process. But the wine brings 4 delicious characteristics to your dish, acidity, sweetness, and tannins, as well as kind of generic, “wine-y” flavor.
In conclusion. We believe there is no reason for you to drink corked wine. Now you know the most frequent flavor and aromas to detect it.