Maybe you’ve been anticipating enjoying that bottle of wine for a while. Or, you’ve splurged at a restaurant for a special dinner and you want everything to be perfect, but when the wine is opened, suddenly you know something isn’t right. It smells off. It tastes worse. What could be wrong? Is it “corked?” Here’s how to tell:
It Has a Real Cork
Yes, only wine stoppered with a real cork can be “corked.” Long story short, TCA is the “corked culprit.” Chlorine is used to sterilize the corks, but a cork with mold can become tainted. If the cork is synthetic, then you may be a bad wine, but you can’t call it corked.
It Smells Like a Wet Dog
Seriously! The aroma of man’s best friend after a dip in the lake, or a run in the park on a rainy day; yep that’s the corked smell. Other claim it’s more the scent of musty clothing, a moldy basement, soaked newspapers, wet cardboard, or a swimming pool with too much chlorine. You’ll know it once you smell it.
It Tastes Like It Smells
A corked wine doesn’t have the zip, the sparkle, the bright berry nose. If you decide to take a sip, it may have a musty taste, or a moldy flavor. Not a good sign. Some corked wines may offer little in the way of taste and aroma; they're just flat and dull; lifeless on the tongue.
While a corked wine is safe to drink, don’t. I assume you are drinking wine for the experience: the flavors, the aromas, the enjoyment of it. Do not proceed with a corked wine: dump it, send it back, or request a replacement, or a refund. (The old adage about drinking bad wine is true!)
by sniffing the cork. Nope, that will not indicate if a wine is corked. (It just looks good in the movies.) The cork will smell like …well, cork. And, obviously, that’s not helpful.
If you discover tiny bits of cork floating in your wine after you open it, or you notice “wine diamonds” stuck to the cork, please, do not say the wine is corked. It isn’t.
Now, open up that bottle and let the enjoyment begin.