While doing research for another story, I came across an anecdote that referred to a wine being corked. I was like, what? Corked? What does that even mean?
So dear reader, let us learn together.
What does corked mean
A Wine that has been corked is a wine that has had a chemical contaminant find its way into the bottle. Generally, this contaminant is 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA) and is leached into the wine by its cork.
How do you know a wine is corked
The most obvious sign of a corked wine is a wet dog smell. Generally, the TCA caused the wine to become musty and smell damp. The wine may have also oxidised, so if you have had this type of wine before and it looks different this may be why. There is a quick checklist to help determine if a wine is corked, try asking yourself these questions if you think there is something up with your bottle of wine. Does the bottle have a real cork Do the wines reviews/tasting notes not line up with what you are drinking Do you need to reset your palate and try a sip/sniff again Do the other people drinking also think it may be corked You should be able to smell that a wine is corked before you taste it, but if you don’t catch it before that first sip that’s okay. Corked wines are safe to drink, they just don’t taste or smell the best. In fact, they are quite tasteless.
How to fix corked wine
Unfortunately, there is no way to actually fix corked wine. It’s gone for good. I hope you didn’t pay too much for it. If you’re at a restaurant and you believe you have corked wine, then you’re in luck. Simply ask to speak to the sommelier and explain the situation, they’re usually more than happy to help. Best to say something before you polish off the bottle though.
Other common issues with wine
While we’re on it, why not explore some other common issues with wine?
Secondary fermentation occurs when excess sugar has managed to make its way into a bottle of wine. As the wine sits, the sugar ferments. The best way to spot this is when wines that shouldn’t have bubbles have them. It can be fixed though, if your red wine has found itself fizzy, pour it into a makeshift decanter (with a lid) and shake shake shake until there is no bubbles left!
UV light damage
Wine that has been left in direct sunlight can fall victim to what is called lightstrike. Wine that is stored near windows can often fall victim to this process. The wine will begin to smell like a wet wool jumper. Unfortunately, you can’t reverse this process, but you can prevent it by simply storing your wine in cool dark places.
Please, please, please, do not leave your wine in a hot car all day. It will damage it! And it cannot be fixed! Wine that has been heat damaged essentially has been cooked. It will smell kind of jammy and look a bit brown. As you can see, there’s a whole lot of things that could go wrong with your bottle of wine! Try not to stress too much though, we’ve had way more good wine than bad.
Tahia Goulding is an experienced travel blogger based in Sydney. Talia is the owner at No Plane Old Holiday. Follow Talia