Does your wine smell a little odd, like a grungy wet, old basement? When you drink the wine, do you notice that the fruit notes are muted when you smell the wine and you have a musty taste in your mouth? Your wine might be corked. Corked wine is a term for a wine that has become contaminated with cork taint. Natural cork is made out of wood. Cork for wine enclosures comes from the Quercus suber (the cork oak) tree, which is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa.

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. While quite unpleasant to taste, a corked wine is not harmful.


How do you handle corked wine? If you are at a restaurant and are enjoying a glass or a bottle, simply notify your server and they will bring you a new glass or bottle. If you bought the bottle from a liquor store or a winery, keep your receipt and contact them to organize a return/exchange of the bottle. Have no fear as corked wine is extremely rare and chances are if you get a new bottle it will be completely fine.

Here is a quick video by Whitney A. on her perspective on corked wine: