wine corks in a pile - not what corked wine smells like

What does corked wine smell like? And what to do about it

⁠You've opened your wine and then the worst happens : it doesn't smell like you would imagine. Here's the why on cork taint and what to do if you're unsure. 

What is corked wine? 

The most common wine fault is cork taint or TCA which is caused by a mould that grows on cork oak trees. It's got nothing to do with cork in wine, if only - it would be so much easier to resolve if that were the case!

Cork is a natural product which means that not all of it can be controlled. Occasionally TCA mould gets into the cork, and sits there, once the cork comes into contact with the wine, it breeds and wreaks havoc with your wine. This is not a common occurrence though, realistically we're looking at about 2% of corks having this problem. It's not a huge risk, but at sometime or another you'll most likely run into it.

Irene smelling a wine used during our online wine tasting events to check for cork taint

What does a corked wine smell like? ⁠ think wet cardboard, wet dog, musty cellar and you're somewhere close. Yep, you're going to notice! In very tiny amounts, TCA will mute the aromas of the wine so you won't get the usual "up-your-nose" aromas from your favourite wines. 

TOP TIP : If you're not sure whether or not your wine is corked, leave if for 5 minutes and try it again. ⁠The aromas of cork taint get stronger the longer they are in contact with oxygen. 

What can I do with corked wine? Unfortunately, there's no solution to resolving corked wine. 

If you're in a restaurant, the staff should change the bottle for you. In some restaurants in the Sommeliers taste the wines before they are served.

Some wine producers will happily replace a bottle with cork taint whereas others just say its bad luck and part of the charm of using a natural product. Most of the wines that we use on Quaranvino wine tastings are guaranteed to the cork taint-free. If you do find a corked bottle, just drop us a line and we'll be happy to replace it. 

⁠Can a bottle of wine with a screw-cap have cork taint? 
TCA that causes cork taint can be present in a winey and on the wine-making equipment, not just transported on the cork. This means that even screw caps can be corked although this is even more rare than finding a tainted cork!

More and more wineries are using alternative corks and closures including corks made from sugar beet to be sure that they don't run the risk of customers finding cork taint in their wines. ⁠These corks are recyclable, carbon-neutral, light and super ecological. You'll find many wines included in our tastings use these sorts of closures. 


Enjoy this wine tip? On Wednesdays we try to answer a common wine question (usually one we've been answered during on of our online events) on our IG or Facebook accounts. If you have a question, drop us a comment below! 

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