how to identify cork taint

How to identify cork taint: easy & clear!

How to identify cork taint? I’ve heard this question many times during my time as a wine educator. Amongst faults you can find in wine, it’s one of the easiest to detect.

So let’s decipher what is cork taint and how to identify it quickly when tasting a wine!

What is it?

Trichloroanisole, a chlorine molecule (also called TCA), develops on badly crafted natural corks. It can also develop on wooden vessels in the winery. During cellaring, it can affect the wine in contact with the cork and damage it.

How to identify cork taint

You’ve probably seen many sommeliers sniffing the cork when they open a bottle of wine. They do this in order to detect cork taint from the source! When sniffing a cork, it should display a pleasant aroma of wood. If it smells like humidity, cellar or cardboard, it’s probably damaged.

However, cork taint can also come from other sources (contact with contaminated materials, chlorine,…) and then only be detected in the wine itself.

Moreoever, the molecule may have impacted the wine below your TCA threshold, or not at all. So you won’t even notice it. This is why I would advice to always smell and taste the wine to make sure that it’s corked or not. Sometimes it’s the only way to detect TCA!

When smelling the wine, TCA shows with musty, moldy and wet cardboard aromas. The wine also does not smell fruity or fresh anymore.

When tasting the wine, you’ll get the final confirmation of the fault with an unbalanced wine, a short finish and an unpleasant aftertaste.

Now I would love to hear from you.

Have you already been in contact with a corked wine? What was your reaction?

Are you generally able to easily detect TCA in a wine?

Let me know in the comments below!


Alexia Hupin

PS: Want more easy wine knowledge? Check out this post on how to spit wine!

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