If you have ever heard someone calling a bottle of wine �corked� or opened a bottle that smelled moldy and unappealing, then you may have been a victim of cork taint. Caused by the presence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) being released in wine, this type of taint affects wine regardless of cost or type. Aside from systemic TCA which occurs when TCA completely contaminates a winery (wine barrels, drain pipes, wooden beams in the cellars, and rubber hoses) the most common cause originates from the cork which was supposedly protecting the wine from air and keeping our prized wine safe. Don�t be concerned about drinking a bottle of wine that smelled tainted, it won�t make you sick. That being the case, you may feel sick to your stomach and emotionally upset after opening a bottle of wine that you spent a small fortune on collecting and aging only to find out years later that it is tainted.

While there are ways of reducing the occurrence of TCA, the only way to completely remove the risk is to eliminate the source. By using alternate enclosure methods such as screw caps or synthetic corks, cork taint is no longer a concern.

Will screw caps no longer only be found on wine considered to be �cheap�?

Many excellent wines have already made this move. Conundrum, a white wine which is made by the highly regarded winery that also produces the famed Caymus cabernet, proudly embraces its screw cap enclosure. However, even with this shift in thinking, chances are the cork will still be around for quite some time. The cork-industry group APCOR cites a study showing a 0.7-1.2% taint rate which is relatively low considering the percent of bottles that are probably tainted from other means such as poor storage conditions. With such a low occurrence, it is unlikely that corks will be abandoned entirely any time soon.

Think twice the next time you pass judgment on a wine because of how it�s sealed. The next time someone tries to tell you that the bottle of wine that you are drinking is cheap just because it has a screw cap, remind them that you just trying to do your part to support the reduction of cork taint in the wine industry.

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Anonymous said...

the wine industry is one of history, craft and tradition. the cork being no exception to having a stronghold in wine tradition thus the inertia that exists to keep corking around. some may argue the romance of not just the production side but also the consumption side are at stake when the cork is gone. but ultimately the "business" of wine will prevail steering the industry towards modern techniques that create more value to the growers, makers and ultimately the drinkers. given the cost savings and the reduced risk in wine spoilage, it is just a matter of time. in mean time, my family and a network of business partners have deployed the "wine nmr" to non-invasively chemically analze wine bottles for spoilage with high degree of accuracy and precision for tca and spoilage due to improper storage. the beauty of the convergence of technology and the legacy of wine.

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