What’s A Corked Wine?

We’ve all heard of a skunked beer- one that has essentially just gone sour, or stale, and tastes or smells sort of funky. Generally, this comes from it being incredibly old, or maybe it was subjected to strange temperatures or climates or was left out in the garage after a tailgate last football season.


Either way, you never really want to drink a skunked beer, right? The same goes for a corked wine. The two are fairly similar, in that they result in a beverage that is no longer drinkable which is pretty sad.

So what exactly is a “corked” wine? The simple explanation is that it is a wine which has become contaminated by cork taint. But what’s cork taint? It’s caused by the presence of TCA, which is formed when the natural fungi that reside in cork come in contact with the chemical bleaches used in sterilization during the bottling or fermenting process of winemaking.



How do you know if your wine is corked? If you open your bottle and suddenly the whole room smells like you just gave your dog a bath, or like a newspaper that sat out in the rain. Rather than a normal beautiful, fruity, floral scent, you’re going to be affronted with a musty, moldy smell that probably won’t be appetizing in any way.


Here is the good news:

  • While it smells pretty unpleasant, cork taint won’t actually harm you if you ingest a corked wine.
  • Only wines with natural corks can be contaminated, so if you only drink screw top wine or bottles with synthetic corks, you have nothing to worry about.
  • A recent study actually showed that out of naturally corked wines, only 5% end up with cork taint, which is an incredibly low percentage, so don’t let it stop you!


It’s helpful to know that getting bits of cork in your wine after opening it definitely doesn’t classify as a corked wine, and it’s also completely harmless to consume. We obviously don’t advise this as who really wants to drink cork when you spent your money on the wine itself, but hey, we don’t judge.

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