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What is a corked wine and how to recognize it?

When opening a bottle of wine, you may discover some defects. The most feared is cork taint, since it makes the wine completely undrinkable. So let's find out what a corked wine is, and how to recognize it.

Corked wine: how do you recognize it?

Very often, a corked wine is detected as soon as the bottle is opened. On the nose, we immediately smell the characteristic odor of cork , but we can also perceive odors of musty, damp earth, or even wet cardboard. Although this cork smell is particularly unpleasant, it does not necessarily mean that the wine is corked. Indeed, certain wines have these characteristic traits. The best way to be sure of the wine's defect is to taste it, because bad odors are not always indicative of a defect, and on the contrary, a corked wine sometimes (rarely) has no odor.

Where does this cork taste come from?

According to a persistent misconception, cork taint only affects poor quality bottles of wine. However, this is not the case, and no wine is immune to this disappointment. In fact, the cause of corked wines is a bacteria called TCA , or trichloroanisole, which is found in cork.

A poorly treated cork can then deteriorate and contaminate the wine, which takes on that famous cork taste. The cork smell, or musty smell, is then more or less strong depending on the type of cork and the type of bottle. Thus, nothing beats tasting to ensure you have a flawless wine.

Cork: the sole cause of a corked bottle

TCA bacteria are only present in cork. We thus understand that cork taint can only develop with wines stored in a bottle closed with a cork stopper . No risk, then, with screw caps or synthetic caps.

So why do winemakers continue to close their wine bottles with corks? Wine lovers will tell you that the risk of oxidation in a bottle with a synthetic cork is much higher than the risk of corked wine in bottles with cork stoppers.

Indeed, even if, in the past, the taste of wet cardboard represented nearly 15% of bottles, today, thanks to optimal treatment of corks and quality control, the problem remains very rare .

How to recognize a corked wine?

A corked wine is quite easy to spot, either by smell or taste. So, if you notice, as soon as you open the bottle, an unpleasant smell of rotten wood or mold , it is very likely that your wine is corked.

The best way to make sure is to taste the wine . In the mouth, you will then very distinctly notice an unpleasant musty taste , or even a plastic taste.

Be careful, a bad smell or unpleasant taste should not make you decide to throw the bottle away immediately. Take the time to aerate the wine , then carry out a second tasting. It is sometimes even recommended to re-cork it and wait 1 or 2 days before tasting the wine again. If the defects are still present, then you will have to make up your mind.

How to avoid cork taint?

To avoid cork taint in a wine, everything starts from bottling. The winemaker must then choose quality corks, having undergone appropriate treatment.

As a consumer, there is nothing you can do about it except buy a bottle with a synthetic cork or a glass cork if you do not want to take the risk. Let us remember, however, that corked wines are increasingly rare, and that the cork remains the ideal solution to allow the wine to breathe.

What to do with a corked wine?

Have you opened a good bottle for your guests, and you discover that it is corked? Although the taste and smell of mold take away all the pleasure from tasting it, that does not mean that it is unfit for consumption. So, if the taste is not very pronounced, you can find alternatives and use your corked wine differently . You can then prepare a good dish with sauce , such as beef bourguignon or coq au vin, or even make a delicious wine sauce.

No wine lover is safe from one day opening a good bottle of wine and discovering cork taste . Unfortunately, nothing will fix the problem, and you will just have to open another bottle. To counter this problem, Château de Berne offers bottles of Provence wine with a glass stopper . What's more chic?

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