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Corked Wine Reality Check

24 May 2018

What exactly is cork taint? A taint can be defined as an undesired character that is completely foreign to a beverage or food, normally coming from an exterior source. And indeed, cork taint does not arise or originate from grapes or winemaking. It is mostly caused by 2, 4, 6-trichloroanisole (or TCA for short), a chemical compound derived largely from the cork stopper in a wine bottle and to a lesser extent from other sources such as wood (oak barrels, roofs, floorboards, etc.) in a winery. There are a few other compounds responsible for “cork” taint, but this is the major one. TCA is generated by naturally-occurring fungi that often exist in the crevices of wood or cork, coming in contact with chlorine compounds, which are ubiquitously present in pesticides, cleaning/sterilizing/bleaching agents and wood treatments, etc. Chlorine is highly volatile; it disperses easily and far from its original source and it’s often difficult to keep offending fungi from coming in contact with chlorine. When the fungi meets the chlorine there’s an ungodly engendering that occurs, TCA is formed, and it is not pleasant, pernicious in its ability to instantly spoil a wide range of food and beverage items including mineral water, coffee and apple juice.