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Corked Sensitivity

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How sensistive are you to "corked" wines?

For me, the answer is not very. I would say I have detected corked wine odors no more than a dozen times in more than 30 years as a wine hobbyist. For me, these odors, the classic musty wet cardboard, have ranged from very strong, to faint enough that I asked vendor to verify.
(on returning bottles, vendors' perceptions have been apparently the same as mine, ranging from, "Whoa yeah" to "You're right, there's something there."
Now, I have had plenty of wine "without fruit", but you know, without the odor of corked, I really never think/thought to blame it on cork, since at the price level of much of the wine I have purchased over the years, I figured they just didn't have any good fruit built into them. Maybe I was wrong.

So that's me, I can smell it faintly or strongly, but other than that...

I posted this after looking at the revived thread about Saran wrap curing or at least dumbing down corked symptoms. The thread brought up figures I have seen before estimating that 5-10% of all bottles are corked. That's a bad bottle every case or every two cases. That seemingly means I've missed hundreds of bottles that were corked.

So how about you? Come across a corked bottle every month? Every couple of weeks? half a dozen times a year? Or what?

Oh, and does the corked aroma present itself or is it a lack of fruit that you attribute to the wine being corked without the "plain" olfactory evidence?

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  1. I haven't had more than a handful of corked bottles and I'm 63. Of course, it may depend on where you buy yiur wines from and also how old they are.

    6 Replies
    1. re: kagemusha49

      >>> it may depend on where you buy yiur wines from and also how old they are. <<<

      I don't understand. Could you explain how age would affect whether or not a wine is corked? Also, since TCA comes from things like tainted cork or wood (think a barrel or the wood in a wineries cellar), how would where you purchase the wine make a difference?

      1. re: zin1953

        I'm sorry - I was not (until now) familiar with modern theories on the origin of corked wine. My bad.

      2. re: kagemusha49

        The location of purchase, or the age of the wine will have zero bearing on the TCA (and other) contamination, THOUGH, I do believe that certain conditions might contribute to the notice of the problem.

        The taint can come from several sources, and not just from interaction with the cork and most likely the chlorine, with which they were sanitized. It can come from the barrel room, possibly from the actual construction of the storage area, and other forms of contamination, in the process.

        The wine industry will admit from 4% to 12% contamination, depending on which study you see. I feel, off the cuff, that it is about 10%, but would agree to the higher #, in some years, with some wines.

        I find more contamination with my younger whites, than my older, cellared reds (thankfully), but have encountered it with a few of those reds - usually one bottle only.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          So you get 1-3 corked bottles every couple of cases?

          1. re: FrankJBN

            Yes, when the wines are under cork.

            Hunt

        2. re: kagemusha49

          Improper storage and age can result in oxidation, which is a different flaw.

        3. I am not in the wine industry, and I just haven't had a ton of experience having the "corked" taste/smell pointed out to me, so like you I will sometimes taste a wine without much fruit, or a dead nose...but I have only once been certain, without consulting others, that I was encountering a corked bottle.

          Animalistic type brett, however, I can taste and smell very very easily.

          6 Replies
          1. re: goldangl95

            Now, and depending on the wine/producer/region, Brett is a bit more difficult to rule as a fault, though that also depends on the levels.

            TCA (and other) taint is usually screaming at me - scalped fruit, high acid (Maria Lorraine and I disagree on this one), and then that "musty Baptist hymnal smell, usually do it for me.

            With degrees of TCA, I might have to work beyond the "smell," and look to the elevated acid. If I am familiar with the wine, the scalped fruit is usually evident, but if I do not know the wine, it might not be THAT obvious, but compounded, TCA taint normally shows up, and can be confirmed.

            hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Cork taint doesn't increase acidity. Probably in higher-acid wines the muted nose is making the wine taste more acidic.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                That has been the absolute opposite of my observations. That increase in perceived acidity is on of my tests.

                Now, Maria Lorraine agrees with you, but I do not. For me, and for my wife (also a hyper-sensitive taster), the acidity is a "give away."

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  I wondered about the acidity with TCA, so I asked ETS Labs. They said the two are unrelated. However, I have often found that TCA occurs with VA, hence the conflation of the two.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    While I am anything BUT a scientist, I have encountered the VA in almost every instance, to the point that I attribute it to TCA (and other) "cork taint."

                    For me, it is but observation, though careful observation. Why I get one, when I get the other, is beyond my pay grade. Same thing with "what happened to the fruit?"

                    Thanks for sharing the scientific material, as it is greatly appreciated, as always.

                    Hunt

              2. re: Bill Hunt

                Just to clarify, I think cork taint often occurs with volatile acidity. That's how I separate the two distinct flaws.

            2. I notice it more at wine judgings, competitions, and at tastings . . . perhaps I'm more focused on it, concentrating on looking for flaws . . . at competitions and the like, the rate-of-taint runs about 5-7% or more. (This is competition-wide, not merely the wines that I taste.) The highest rate I've ever experienced was, IIRC, 12 percent, but that was when a lot of wineries were using Altecs.

              In terms of the wines I open at home and/or in restaurants, it is lower -- say 3-5%.

              In terms of "wine 'without fruit', but you know, without the odor of corked," wines with very low levels of TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole) can indeed seem to be "without fruit," and not demonstrate the musty cellar/wet dog/wet cardboard aromas that are -- for lack of a better term -- classic TCA. There are times when the ONLY way one can tell if a wine is corked is if and when a second bottle is opened . . .

              Obviously this isn't always feasible. But I will say that there have been several times when I wasn't sure that a specific wine was corked (at a judging/competition), but someone else was -- and a second bottle confirmed that, yes indeed, the first bottle was corked!

              4 Replies
              1. re: zin1953

                With respect Zin (and I recognize that you know your stuff) this sounds about as reliable a method of determining whether a wine is corked as Russian judges at the Olympic games.

                1. re: kagemusha49

                  Sorry. You've lost me. How else would you determine whether or not a wine is corked, short of opening the bottle and then holding off on dinner until you've had a chance to send a sample off to ETS and waiting until the report comes back?

                  http://www.etslabs.com

                2. re: zin1953

                  I've lost count of how many times I've confirmed a wine was corked or otherwise flawed by opening a second bottle.

                  1. re: zin1953

                    Now, you do much more of this, than I do, but I can only recall one TCA-tainted bottle in competition. However, I have nailed a half-dozen bottles at "trade tastings," and the responses have been very telling, and not something that one should take much comfort in.

                    Hunt

                  2. I'm the least less sensitive to TCA of all the wine nuts I know. I can't smell it unless the wine is hideously corked. Funny, given that I'm also the most sensitive to oxidation.

                    If I know a wine, I can recognize that it's corked by the flattened nose and muted flavor. Sometimes in a wine bar or restaurant if an unfamiliar wine seems like I'll ask the bartender or sommelier to check and often it turns out to be corked.

                    1. I'm quite sensitive. I'm usually the go to "is this corked?" guy in my wine circles. People tend to think maybe the flaw will "blow off" given time. I've always found corkiness intensifies with exposure to air rather than dissipates.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Brad Ballinger

                        Some faults blow off, but corked is corked, and will only get worse.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I completely agree.

                          I wish that it WOULD "blow away," as some faults, or perceived faults can - but it does not.

                          Hunt

                        2. re: Brad Ballinger

                          My recollection is that corked that I can smell is generally worse the next day.

                          1. re: FrankJBN

                            I have not encountered situations, where the TCA (and other) increases. I often save faulted bottles, to share with wine tasting groups, like Wine & Food Society, to educate others.

                            Now, oxidation CAN increase, after the cork has been initially pulled, but that should be expected.

                            Hunt

                          2. re: Brad Ballinger

                            Agreed

                            1. re: zin1953

                              +1. A good tip is to walk away from the wine for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes and come back to it and smell it freshly.

                              Corked wine, as Jason explains, often appears with only a faint musty or wet dog/cardboard smell. Then, to confirm the wine is corked, you look for other signs, muted or no fruit or a flatness in flavor. IMO, many wines that are simply dull or not appealing are actually subtly corked.

                              I've found, like Bill, the old musty book, Baptist church hymnal, smell descriptor to be quite apt.

                              I've also found that once people ID the smell, they "lock" it in, and can smell TCA at lower and lower levels. It's a smell as distinct as singed hair, burning electrical wires or a rotten potato --
                              no other smell is like it.

                              Sensitivity to corked wines, of course, varies by person and exposure. Amorim, the cork producer, puts on a seminar that presents the taster with doctored wines, with wines at 2 ppb TCA, and at 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 ppb and so on. Interspersed within those wines are wines with no TCA. What this test reveals is one's individual perceptive threshold -- how faint can the TCA be before you detect it? Another part of the seminar consists of tests to discern TBA (which is just like TCA but with "green-ness"), TeCA and the other haloanisoles.

                              I'm extremely sensitive to TCA/TBA, and once I smell it, I can't ever go back to enjoying the wine.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                ML,

                                As with your experiences, once a taster identifies the tastes, and smells, they seldom need a "refresher course." Once is usually enough. The "imprint" seems forever etched in their psyche.

                                One thing that seems to often accompany the declaration of a TCA "corked wine," is a strangely gray, and dry cork, even when the bottle has been stored on its side. That is not a universal, but I have encountered it often enough, to use that as a possible tell-tale, like the odor, the scalped fruit and the higher levels of acid (or perceived acid).

                                Hunt

                          3. I am hyper-sensitive, as is my wife. I have picked up "corked" wines B-T-G, when the server passed behind me. I have picked up on the TCA, when the bottle is first opened, near my table. I can only recall three situations, where I had to pass the glass to my wife, for confirmation, and only one instance, where someone else questioned, after I had OK'ed the wine. Still not sure about that one?

                            Hunt

                            1. We have a bottle with dinner almost every evening with dinner. I would say that at least one bottle a month is corked so that's a dozen a year. If you've had a dozen over 30 years, I would say you're pretty fortunate.

                              1. Personally I am not very sensitive to TCA at all, and neither is my wife. Very few "corked" wines in our experience, the only notable one being at a tasting of Pino Noirs - the suspect bottle was a Burgundy.

                                Those of you interested should check out this book by George Taber, in which the subject is discussed at some length:

                                http://www.amazon.com/Cork-Not-Tradit...

                                1. I've had very few wines I KNEW were corked (and that's well into 4 to 5 thousand bottles, including when we had our shop). I've just assumed I have a low level of sensitivity........ but what about my wife (who seems much more sensitive) and all those customers?

                                  39 Replies
                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    What about them? Most people don't know corked from a proverbial hole-in-the-ground. If the server in a restaurant or even the manager will try to argue with me about whether a wine is corked or not (this presumes, of course, that they've heard the term before), what is the average customer of a retail store supposed to do?

                                    Not to mention which, I can count on two hands the number of times I've actually returned a bottle to a retailer when I did not either work there or sell to that store. It's simply a PITA to hang onto the bottle, to drive over to the store, and then (anticipate) argue with the college kid clerk behind the counter who doesn't know $#!+ that the wine I bought a week ago was bad! (Well, of course it's bad; you opened it a week ago and the thing smells like vinegar now!)

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      I get that TCA is scientifically identifiable, but is there a certain 'tree falling in the forest' element to a wine being corked? I guess my question is really about whether something like TCA is most often 'dulling' a wine for most people rather than really giving it truly off-putting elements. The examples suggested here, of 'corked-ness' being best demonstrated by comparing two bottles would seem to suggest that.

                                      1. re: Midlife

                                        Oh, Midlife, TCA is rank. Definite sound when the tree falls in the forest.

                                        Rank like moldy damp basement "inside a cave" but more extreme.

                                        1. re: Midlife

                                          As ML has said . . . it's the loudest tree in the forest!

                                          In the First World War, there was an explosion in eastern France that was heard (and may have broken windows?) in southern England. It's THAT kind of tree!

                                          >>> The examples suggested here, of 'corked-ness' being best demonstrated by comparing two bottles would seem to suggest that. <<<

                                          Remember that we measure TCA contamination in ppb -- parts per BILLION -- when nearly every other component is measured in ppm (parts per million). It is ONLY at extremely low levels of TCA contamination where one may initially mistake a corked wine for one with muted fruit. It is ONLY then that a second bottle will clearly demonstrate that -- no, the wine is not in a dumb or backward stage, the wine does not suffer from a distinct lack of fruit; it is corked!

                                          If I had to guess, I would say that this "need" for a second bottle only occurs in 10, perhaps as much as 20, percent of the number of corked wines I have come across in 40+ years. Far more common is the "WHOA! This is corked!" experience.

                                          Also, FWIW, even that low-level-TCA-needing-a-second-bottle-to-confirm experience doesn't *really* need a second bottle. Given enough time/air, the TCA becomes more and more obvious. (And yes, I've been disappointed in a wine with dinner, and come back after the dishes were done and smelled the bottle one last time before pouring it down the drain, and realized "$#!+, the sucker was corked!" This was then followed by the requisite self-flaggelation for not recognizing it in the first place.)

                                          ;^)

                                          Cheers,
                                          Jason

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            OK................ no argument. I HAVE smelled truly corked wine and wouldn't debate this with you or marialorraine anyway. But, then, how do you explain that so very many people seem to have so few encounters with corked wine in their lives.

                                            I may be too logical about this, but it just has to be that people drink a lot of corked wine without realizing it. The odds are too great for this to be like winning the lottery (in reverse), so what else could it be?

                                            1. re: Midlife

                                              I have long been convinced that lots of people drink corked wines without ever realizing it.

                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                Has to be! Either that's true or the % quotes from the industry are way off.

                                                It just makes sense to me that people have different threshold levels of sensitivity to tastes and aromas.

                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                  No, the industry studies are correct. I've participated in a couple where, for example, the number of corked wines entered at the California State Fair were (IIRC) seven percent one year, and over ten in another.

                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                    Is there any showing whether these corked wines exhibitied the tell-tale off aroma or if they were determined to be "corked" by a different gauge - the lack of fruit as discussed above for instance or by a chemical testfor presence of TCA?

                                                    I reiterate merely for context that while I have on occasion smelled both strongly and mildly the tell-tale 'wet cardboard' aroma, these occasions have been few and far between, well below the bruited percentages.

                                                    1. re: FrankJBN

                                                      With specific reference to the State Fair, there are typically four judges to a panel. If any single judge states that a wine is corked, a second bottle is opened and fresh glasses are poured for all four judges. Generally speaking, three or all four recognize the wine as corked, but perhaps (depending upon the specific panel), 1-3 times during the competition only one judge will say "It's corked" while the other three remain dubious . . . UNTIL the second bottle is opened.

                                                      Only once in all the years I've judged wines professionally has someone declared a bottle to be corked and the second bottle showed exactly the same . . . .

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        So it is quite possible that a lack of fruit could be the leading indicator of cork taint, as I would think even the slightest aroma would be easily recognizable among 'professional' wine judges without recourse to a different exemplar.

                                                        Does this seem reasonable or perhaps likely?

                                                        1. re: FrankJBN

                                                          I am hesitant to agree solely because, in my experience, the overwhelming number of corked bottles are so obviously tainted with the smells of "wet dog," "moldy cardboard," and/or "dank basement" that a lack of fruit is way, way, waaaaayyyyyyy down the list.

                                                          That said, "muted" fruit is how I typically describe it, rather than a complete lack thereof (which could instead be simply because the wine is in a "dumb," or "backward" phase).

                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            Which is where tasting two bottles comes in. If one has fruit and the other is muted in that typical way, it's corked, whether you can smell TCA or not.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              Exactly!

                                                    2. re: zin1953

                                                      I wasn't questioning the industry studies...... if that was your concern. My point is what it was above..... simply that most people can't distinguish much below high levels of taint.

                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                        Most non-professionals can't pass a triangle test.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Many pros can't either! ;^)

                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            Which leads me to what I think is a relevant question................. is there any real point to quoting an industry 'standard' percentage if only the most sensitive and trained individuals can tell?? I mean as far as the vast majority of wine drinkers are concerned.

                                                            This usually comes up in questions about the trend toward Stelvin closure use. I now tell people what the industry quotes for cork taint, but add that most people aren't sensitive to that extent.

                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                              a) Yes, and b) I don't think that's true.

                                                              Of course it's relevant, and you are STILL incorrect: it is NOT "only the most sensitive and trained individuals (who can) can tell." As I stated above, it is far more common -- on the order of magnitudes more common -- for there to be the OBVIOUS smell of "wet dog," "moldy cardboard," "dank cellar" to the wine than merely muted or faint fruit. There is no mistaking it in an overwhelming percentage of cases; as I said above, it is perhaps 1 in 10. (The larger figure of 20 percent was to give it the benefit of the doubt. In my personal experience, only about 10 percent of all corked wines are detected solely by opening a second bottle; overwhelmingly, they SCREAM of cork taint!)

                                                              If you've spent any time in retail, and I know you have, you have had to come across customers who didn't like a wine because it was sweet (or dry), despite the fact that it was supposed to be that way; or that it was oaky, or not oaky enough; or . . . or . . . or . . . you've probably had customers who consumed a wine with excessive VA, solely because they either didn't recognize the VA (or EA, H2S, even mercaptans, etc.), or thought it "was supposed to taste like that."

                                                              Secondly, I think your experience is the abnormal one, rather than the norm. In every wine class I have ever taught, there is at least one corked wine (if not more). The first time there is one, I stop whatever the discussion is and switch into talking about TCA and corked wines. Even though I know it's corked, I pour it anyway. There is *always* any number of people who say they've never had a corked wine (I ask), and once they smell it, they are the first to chime in if/when it happens again (I never point out the second occurrence; I let my students discover it). And frequently -- though to be fair, not always -- I have one or more students who say something along the lines of "So that's corkiness? I thought that smell was supposed to be there" or "I thought that smell came from the cellar it was aged in" or "I thought . . . "

                                                              Now, that said, I have no doubt that some people have a lower threshold and others have a higher threshold for detecting faults. I know, for example, that I am more sensitive to sulfur and less sensitive to VA. I see no reason to think the same couldn't happen when it comes to a sensitivity towards TCA. But I reject the notion that "only the most sensitive and trained individuals can tell" if a wine is corked. I think the vast majority of wine drinkers out there detect it, but many do not realize it is a fault. I think very few people out there are insensitive to it.

                                                              But I *do* think you might be one.

                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                OK.. I give up. What if I say it another way? If there really ARE 1 in 20 to 1 in 15 corked bottles I think that there are not that many people who recognize low ppm taint as such. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. ;o]]]]]

                                                                Jason, you've been in the biz a lot longer than I have, but I don't think I've met anyone who has agreed that that many bottles are recognized as tainted. Obviously that doesn't mean that they AREN'T tainted, just that they're not recognized.

                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                  I ask this, Midlife, because you seem sensitive to other components of wine, but might you be insensitive to cork taint? Like a selective anosmia?

                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                    Well, ML, that's the conclusion I've come to . . .

                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                      "I ask this, Midlife, because you seem sensitive to other components of wine, but might you be insensitive to cork taint? Like a selective anosmia?" -marialorraine

                                                                      I don't doubt that at all............... I'm pretty much tone-deaf as well ;o]. But it's not just me who hasn't picked up the cork taint. In a tasting environment (as bad as it sounds to have happen) I don't recall a taster pointing it out to me........ and we had some very experienced tasters from time to time.

                                                                      I think I recall you posting about a company in Napa or Sonoma that tests people for this kind of thing. Would you have any info about actual data regarding the issues we've been discussing here? Or.................would you provide contact info and I'd be happy to pursue the subject with them. This subject is obviously something that really interests me.

                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                        I believe ML was referencing ETS Labs -- see http://www.etslabs.com

                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                          Midlife/Jason,

                                                                          Actually, it's a test put on by Amorim, the cork producer. But ETS may have something similar.

                                                                          See my post of Aug 10, 2012 01:29 PM above.

                                                                          It's not such a bad thing to have a selective insensitivity or anosmia. You simply compensate by relying upon someone else to detect cork taint, or whatever it is you're not detecting.

                                                                          Also, I'm in agreement with Jason/zin1953 that 9 out of 10 corked wines are obviously corked. The borderline corked bottle occurs infrequently, and in that case, the other forensic signs of taint are present and obvious.

                                                                    2. re: Midlife

                                                                      We're not really arguing here; we just disagree. I think that a majority of people who don't recognize cork taint do so (don't do so?) because they don't know what "corked" is, not that they think the wine is perfect and just the way it should be.

                                                                      But considering 8 or 9 of 10 corked bottles are BLATANTLY corked -- and only one or two out of the 10 are of such a low threshold that it is in need of confirmation -- I think those people who don't recognize those 8-9 bottles have simply never been educated as to what cork taint / TCA / TCB is. ;^)

                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                        "considering 8 or 9 of 10 corked bottles are BLATANTLY corked"

                                                                        See, this is what I don't get.

                                                                        As I described above, in the few bottles I have decided were corked, the odor of the taint has ranged from subtle to blatant. Repeating, the blatant has been 'Whoa, yow, that's ugly.', the subtle I have checked with the retailer (reputable retailer run buy former high-end sommelier) and was confirmed.

                                                                        If I can smell a subtle trace of the taint, and absolutely I can and have, and if "blatantly" tainted bottles are plainly obvious to me, which they are, how have I managed to miss hundreds of bottles of "blatantly " corked bottles? Because I have certainly tasted thousands of bottles of wine in my time.

                                                                        Hell, some few years ago, in preparing for a 50th birthday dinner, I probably tasted cloe to fifty bottles of wine over the course of October in order to choose what to buy for the dinner. (Oh yeah, I was out of my mind) Needless to say, I was paying close attention to these wines. From what I read, at a minimum there should have been at least one plainly corked smelling bottle. I'm saying no, there was not.

                                                                        See the muted/lack of fruit idea gave me a "That explains it." Now it's back to '1 in 10 comes in a pink bottle you just don't notice it.'

                                                                        I will note as well that I am pretty sensitive to otherwise 'off' aromas of damaged wines.

                                                                      2. re: Midlife

                                                                        I'll add myself to the Midlife group of people who can't seem to detect cork taint on the scale and to the degree that it apparently exists. I've had it pointed out to me before and even then it registered but didn't scream out to me.

                                                                        I have never turned away a bottle because of cork taint at a restaurant, and I have never been able to declare proudly that a bottle was tainted at a dinner party. (I do have wine notes that go: nose meh/off, not much fruit, closed, perhaps flawed?!?!)

                                                                        On the other hand, probably between restaurants and home, I only taste from under 200 bottles a year *shrug*. And I assume restaurants that do by the glass, wineries and wine shops that conduct tastings, which is how I frequently consume/taste wine, - screen out the corked bottles, so I could see how if it's more like a rate of 2% I could be missing it.

                                                                        I know people have different sensitivities to it as I once was talking to a winemaker who shared a producing facility with other winemakers. He said everyone gave their bottles to one person to smell for cork taint because that person was much more sensitive than the rest. (and these were a reputable set of winemakers, so I assume the fact that one isn't sensitive to TCA does not reflect on one's ability to judge wine or evaluate other flaws).

                                                                        1. re: goldangl95

                                                                          I've sent back corked wines at restaurants a few times. Far more often I've been sitting at the bar when one of the bartenders checks a new bottle.

                                                                          I send back oxidized wines all the time, but that's usually by-the-glass wine that's been open too long.

                                                                          1. re: goldangl95

                                                                            <And I assume restaurants that do by the glass, wineries and wine shops that conduct tastings, which is how I frequently consume/taste wine, - screen out the corked bottles>

                                                                            Goldang, you know what happens when you assume anything.... All too often restaurants and clubs that serve wine by the glass just pop and pour without (sometimes) even a cursory sniff. So if you don't tell them there's something wrong with the wine, they won't know. And almost all will reopen a bottle from the day (or even two or three) before that was opened for 1 glass and not finished. Never mind that they charge as much per glass as they've paid for the bottle.

                                                                            I have had more than one unpleasant experience when I've told a waiter (bartender) my wine is corked (or off) and have been told I was in error.....

                                                                            No, wine that's left to sit opened too long will not become corked, but it sure can become undrinkable in a quick hurry!

                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                              My eating habits are rather polarized, and I'm rather fortunate living in the SF Bay Area. The wine shops where I wine taste (KL Wines, Vin Vino), and when I'm not eating Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican (I don't order wine at the local taqueria)...I'm usually eating out at places like St. Vincent's, Cotogna, AQ etc (where I will get wine by the glass more than I get a bottle).

                                                                              Now I'm not saying that they don't occasionally miss the corked/flawed bottle or occasionally leave a wine out too long or whatever. But in terms of cork taint, these places at least have policies for checking for it, and since I seem to be rather insensitive to TCA anyway...I'm sure their screening would be as good as any I would conduct.

                                                                              1. re: goldangl95

                                                                                The wine bars and restaurants I frequent check every bottle they open and every bottle that's left over from the day before before pouring a glass for a customer.

                                                                              2. re: ChefJune

                                                                                And you don't even want to know how many BTG restaurants do absolutely nothing to preserve open bottles than may sit for several days or longer.

                                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                                  Don't even want to know? I'm sure most people who regularly comment on this wine board are fully capable of knowing when a by the glass program does not adequately store their bottles leading to oxidized and heat damaged wines.

                                                                                  If the wine does not tasted oxidized/heat damaged to someone who loves wines and drink it regularly, then at least that wine bottle was stored properly enough for the average wine consumer.

                                                                                  1. re: goldangl95

                                                                                    I'm going to disagree, goldang, not because you're incorrect, but because you didn't go far enough.

                                                                                    What happens is that even overnight the wine becomes less of what it was.
                                                                                    Less fruit, less brightness. Reduced complexity. Increased perception of flaws.

                                                                                    Even overnight. Not necessarily oxidation, but on its way there.

                                                                                    That's why if the wine by the glass does not taste vibrant or bright, ask the barkeep to open a new bottle. The old bottle has probably been open all day or overnight.

                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                      What I was trying to say was that it certainly seems as if many restaurants feel that their 'average' customer DOESN'T recognize the degradation of vibrancy or brightness very quickly. Many (and I mean MANY) restaurants (not the really high-end ones, but some with decent reputations) just cork and place on the backbar with no attempt at preservation.

                                                                                      I think my point is that many BTG wines end up being poured at far below their optimal 'showing' quality, but they haven't gone 'bad'. I've had many tell me that the dispensing units some use (Napa Tecnologies or Enomatic) are more for show that real use because people just can't discern the degradation. This means the wine is still fine to drink, though no longer at its best.

                                                                                      When I had my shop several reps were under instruction to toss partial bottles after one day so that the wine would show only at it's best.

                                                      2. re: Midlife

                                                        Depends on how sensitive you are. I have friends who can't stand a hint of TCA, maybe 100 or 1000 times more sensitive than I am.

                                                    3. re: Midlife

                                                      I've taken corked wines off the table and had guests who were enjoying them ask me why I was taking their wine away. If I have another bottle on hand I let people compare.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Yup!

                                                    4. Does anyone know if the percentage increases for natural wines? Like many here, I must have a low tolerance because I've only encountered a few bottles that I knew were corked and those were blatantly obvious, "woa!' examples. In fact, I think found more flawed bottled with sulfur than with corked. That said, I have found the percentage go way up the more I drink natural wines.

                                                      In one wine class I was in, the instructor told us if you ever get a chance to smell a corked bottle you should, simply because it's easier to identify smells we've actively observed in the future. This probably explains why sulfur is so easy to pick out.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Klunco

                                                        Natural or unnatural, I don't understand the wide range, roughly 1% to 10%, among more or less authoritative studies of what percentage of wines are corked.

                                                        1. re: Klunco

                                                          Natural wines have -- OK, to be fair -- CAN have lots of other flaws, but an increased rate-of-taint due to TCA is not/should not be one of them. TCA has nothing to due with "natural" wines (whatever the heck that means).

                                                          1. re: Klunco

                                                            Natural wines suffer more than most from many problems but TCA is not one of them. In my experience the rate of TCA in "natural" wines is about the same as among all wines. The rate of other problems is, however, much higher.

                                                          2. Well................ darned if I didn't open a bottle of inexpensive Bordeaux last night and sensed a dull nose and a bit of wet cardboard.

                                                            It wasn't one of those 8 out of 10 flaws, or at least not to my sensitivity, and I spent a bit of time trying to evaluate whether it was really corked of if it just didn't taste good. In the end I decided it didn't matter and poured it out. ;o]

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                              LOL

                                                            2. Thinking more about this, most of the wines I drink at home I buy by the case or three. Most of them have real corks. I can't remember the last time I encountered significant bottle variation. On the other hand, maybe one case in 15 or 20 is clearly off and I return it. So I guess that's in the 5-10% range.

                                                              1. I'm one of those who isn't very sensitive to TCA. But a while ago, I got a bottle of low-end Bordeaux. It didn't have much fruit, but the tannins were a little sharp. So I double-decanted it, and voila! the stink was overwhelming. Introducing air seems to have released the TCA.

                                                                1. I have almost no TCA sensitivity and it frequently makes me look like a dolt when it comes to wine.
                                                                  I was tasting Burgundies blind with a SoCal wine group and we rated the wines and discussed them at the end. Everyone else announced the wine was corked. I rated it third or fourth best out of the six.
                                                                  Often I can tell the wine has muted flavors and that's a hint that it's corked.