Wine Facts . Corked Wine
Most wine drinkers are probably familiar with the term ‘corked wine’ but not many wine drinkers really know what a corked wine tastes like or how a wine becomes corked in the first place.
A corked wine does not mean a wine that has tiny particles of cork floating around in the glass. Corked wine is a term for a wine that has become contaminated with cork taint. Cork taint is not simply the taste of a cork, rather it is caused by the presence of a chemical compound called TCA (2,4,6 – trichloroanisole). TCA is formed when natural fungi (of which many reside in cork) come in contact with certain chlorides found in bleaches and other winery sanitation / sterilization products used to clean corks after they have been harvested. If a winery uses infected corks, the wine becomes tainted. If let loose TCA can contaminate not just a single batch of corks (and wine) but can infect an entire cellar or winery. Once entrenched it is very difficult to eradicate. Since the discovery (only as recent as the early 1990’s) of the cause of cork taint, most wineries have totally eliminated the use of chlorine based clearing products. Corked wines smell and taste of damp, soggy, wet or rotten cardboard. Cork taint dulls the fruit in a wine, renders it lackluster and cuts the finish. It is unlikely that the problem potential can ever be totally eradicated, but the key players in the cork industry did set about finding a solution and today several advanced QA/QC procedures and treatments are in place to render cork less susceptible to developing cork taint. But it can still happen. Remember, we are talking about natural fungi which are everywhere, and of course various chemical reactions.