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Corked, then uncorked!


I opened a bottle of 2009 Chateau tour de sarrail for a wine tasting group. After decanting, we all agreed it was corked. Quite stronlgy and classicly. I poured it back into the bottle expecting a refund. The next night a friend saw it and he wanted to know what a corked wine smelled like so I poured a glass. He couldn’t detect anything strange and indeed it smelled fine. We enjoyed it the next night with food.

Can anyone explain what happened? Were we all mistaken? (There was about 30 mins between decanting and drinking.) I don’t really understand.




Was it actually corked, i.e. TCA?

Sounds like it could be ‘bottle stink’, which does clear with a little aeration.

TCA doesn’t clear, and wine affected will still be as bad in the days following.


I’ve never heard of bottle stink, but it certainly sounds like it. It smelled pretty horrid and tasted bad too. Just assumed it was corked. Always learning,

Thank you Peter.



Yes, I meant to get back to you on this (saw it while was busy with family).

I concur with @peterm.

Corked usually refers to an infection of TCA. TCA has a very particular taste - with wet cardboard and dry walnut-like notes. It doesn’t disappear.

This isn’t the only reason a wine can smell “off”

You can get ‘reduction’, or sulphur notes, from wines that are in screwcap, because they were bottled without enough oxygen. That can ‘blow-off’ with a bit of aeration.

You can get similar issues with wines under cork, either from recent bottling (so it is too much SO2 - used to protect the wine) or something about the way the wine has evolved - as with the reduction issue above. Some of these can be solved with a bit of air and patience.

Finally, it could be BRETT, a different kind of bacterial note, which often only a fault in higher doses, and is more about “wet dog” or barnyard aromas, which could be masked if they are there, but become less obvious as the fruit flavours in the wine open up with oxygen.

Hope these different pointers help. Wine faults are a fascinating area to explore as you get to know wine, because they come up unexpectedly so are hard to prepare for.


Here’s one solution to corked wine that DOES work scientifically however it seems highly unconventional. Pour your tainted wine into a large glass or ceramic bowl (must be unreactive, a cake mixing bowl is good) - then scrunch up a couple of metres of cling film and paddle this around in the wine (or you could line the bowl with cling film with plenty of loose bits. Give it 30 mins then strain back into clean bottle or decanter.

Taste and you should be surprised at the change. At a molecular level the plastic film somehow traps the sulphur compounds created by the bacteria / fungi (or something like that). It also provides a considerable amount of aeration. The wine will NEVER be as pristine as a perfect bottle, but it’s an interesting experiment before you ask TWS for a refund.


That’s interesting Lapin Rouge, there are some bottles that you won’t get a refund for - old ones in the cupboard, or gifts that you may not want to bother the donor about.

You can also cook with a corked wine - as long as you are going to cook for a long time. The TCA ‘burns’ off quickly as it is present in such small amounts. Although better to resurrect a particularly nice bottle than cook it.

It is very interesting reading about taint. It seems some whole winerys can become tainted, and so wines with a screw cap or plastic cork can be tainted.