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Cork Taint


I’ve read something about the effect being due to preferential adsorption of the taint molecules on the surface of the clingfilm. Anecdotal personal evidence is that it helps a bit but doesn’t do anything for heavily tainted wine and even with a lesser level of taint the wine isn’t back to the state the winemaker intended (based on subsequent opening untainted bottles).


Not sulphur compounds (I cannot bring myself to use the currently mandated sulfur :grinning:). TCA and the other haloanisoles that cause cork taint don’t contain sulphur.


Yet… the clingfilm trick works. BUT the result does not return the wine to the same as an originally untainted bottle. Kind of spoils a dinner party to be honest. But if the wine is destined for the sink, then worth trying purely out of interest ?


The mechanism is adsorption, and it is not TCA-specific. Other aromatics are also removed to a greater or lesser extent, which is one of the drawbacks. It is also messy and IMO leaves a plasticy taste in the wine (though that could be in my imagination). It does SEEM to work for mildy corked wines, but overall I now think it is too much faff for an imperfect result.

You should use polythene - film or bags. I tried it once with another cling film type, and the result tasted disgusting. Some plasticiser must have leached out. Not sure that type of clingfilm is allowed now. Other plastics may simply not work.

BTW fats also adsorb TCA, and apparently half-and-half (an American low fat content cream) is used to remove TCA on an industrial scale.

I think boiling will not clean up a heavily corked wine either, but may work otherwise. Best to boil the wine BEFORE it makes contact with any fats - otherwise your food will be contaminated anyway. Again, IMO, it is not worth the faff.


My experience with slightly corked wines, is not that the mustiness gets better or worse over time, but that it comes and goes.

Also, contrary to the experience of most people, I find mild taint easier to detect on the palate than the nose. I say this to at least encourage others to experiment with this - you might be the same.


I put the cooled boiled wine in an ice-cube tray and freeze it down that way. Keeps until it runs out! We don’t get that many corked wines these days and I wouldn’t do it on heavily corked wines. (The ones that stink of TCA.

It’s quite important to boil the wine before adding to anything fatty, as @SteveSlatcher says. To get this bit wrong runs the risk of partitioning the TCA into the fatty phase.


My experience too. In fact other than as a party trick I don’t use it on tainted wine.


This is a great description! Spot on.


Interestingly, maybe it’s the same distinction as people who like/dislike brussels sprouts - that seems to be about sulphulr compounts?


I understood dis/like of sprouts was down to bitterness perception - In particular around human genes that give the taste sensation…there is some chemical but I can’t remember what it is


{Chemistry geek mode on}
Don’t forge, that “cling film” can be made from many different types of plastic - PVC and LDPE being the two most common.

So, there is potential that different people could get different results with the same level of cork taint which they may or may not be able to detect - now that’s an experiment !


In over 50 tears of drinking wine I’ve had a few ‘low-level’ tainted bottles. They have been solved by using a carafe. I only remember one serious taint and that was in a restaurant in Alsace in the early 1980s. My French wasn’t really up to explaining the problem and the sommelier didn’t trust my youthful judgement but once I could get him to try some of the wine it was all rapidly whisked away and replaced without a word being spoken!
I think the whole problem of cork taint is vastly over-rated and partly spread by bottlers who want to use cheap and cheerful screw-tops (which I refuse to buy).


Interesting point of view. I must say that your limited encounters with cork taint over such an extended period are at odds with my experiences. Though my experience of incidence on more recently bottled wines is low, ten or twenty years ago it was a frequent issue (and I was in the trade for quite a while working for a merchant/importer who would have no truck with screwcaps).


Even if you accept cork industry estimates, which according to the Wine Spectator were 1 - 2%, that means you must have had many corked bottles in your 50 years of drinking wine. If you haven’t noticed them, you must be very much at the lower end of the range of sensitivity to TCA.


You refuse to buy screw caps!


Perhaps a thread in itself as to what your reasons are.


may I ask…why do you refuse to buy screw cap ?

what about plastic “corks” ?


I agree with everything @SteveSlatcher says.

I think you are lucky that you can enjoy a wine that others find corked.

Your view on screwcaps is opposite of mine, and I assume you are calling all screwcaps ‘cheap and cheerful’ but the screwcap used by good wines are seriously good, and different from the ones found on cheap wines in the past .

It’s not a cheap option for a winery to switch to screwcaps. First they have to buy a new module for their bottling line to fit the caps. Then they have to source appropriate bottles. While bottles destined for corks don’t have to be precise because a cork will expand to fill the neck, a bottle for screwcaps must be machined exactly to the cap screw fits and make a tight closure. A cork hopper on a bottling line can take any quality of cork or plastic closure.

The drive to screwcaps in the UK was led by supermarkets - who are the major suppliers of wine - because they were fed up with people returning bottles of corked wine


Puts Australian hat on

Wow - just wow.

Firstly, I agree that there are many cheap and cheerful wines out there that are predominately bottled in screwcap. This is to reduce taint/complaints as @peterm suggests and for ease of use by the consumer. However I also do not see a direct correlation into cork = superior wine. There are some truly horrible and horrendous wines bottled under cork and some equally terribly cheap, stubby, short and poor quality corks that are inserted into these. Just because that €2.99 Claret from the French supermarket has a bit of tree bark in it doesn’t make it Lafite.

Secondly, many crisp and fresh white wines - I’m looking at you NZ SB - benefit from a screwcap closure to maintain exactly what they are - Crisp fresh and aromatic. Albarino, Pinot Grigio, Picpoul etc fall into this camp as well.

I think Domaine Laroche are a pretty decent Chablis producer. If they think that their Grand Cru Chablis that they want people to age for between 10-20 years is alright to be bottled under screwcap, that is OK in my books. This is a £50+ wine… And their French!! Traditional haters of the screwcap.

Finally, I will point you to the example of Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon. One of (if not the) finest examples of age-worthy Hunter Valley Sems.
Tyrrell’s work off a kind of faux “En Primieur” selling of this wine to its mailing list. They send out their list of wines and ask for half the cost to secure the stock. When the wine is ready for release, they ask for the remaining half and if you choose to pay you get sent the wine. If not, they refund your money. I assume this helps with storage/inventory costs.
In the early 2000’s, Tyrrell’s did this with the Vat 1 which is released after 5 years. But after checking in with how the wine was ageing, they discovered over 30% of the wines were corked / had premox. Cue notifying loyal consumers and having to refund their money along with dumping a bunch of wine. Tyrrells converted 100% to screwcap in 2004 and haven’t looked back.

Apologies for the long rant but at least I now know who NOT to open my
Henschke Hill of Grace with :wink:


I confess I take pleasure from the ritual of opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew. But I accept that that is purely an aesthetic and nothing to do with quality. And I also accept that I swing in favour of screwcaps when the cork of that treasured and matured old bottle snaps in two!


Completely OT but you just made me think of HoG for the first time in years, and prices for back vintages seem to have doubled since then (and I thought they were already insane)