The tasting

How to recognise if a wine is corked?

vin bouchonné

Beginner, amateur or expert, you may have already opened a bottle wine that was corked. Maybe you came across the annoyance of having one served to you at the restaurant. How to recognise if a wine is corked? We are telling you everything we know.

Here are three tips to recognise a corked wine

  1. Follow your instincts

Our senses are our best assets in order to spot if a wine is corked. Visually, if the cork is moldy or small pieces are floating in the bottle, this is not a good sign though we cannot conclude that it is corked yet! Now pay a special attention to the part of the cork that was in contact with the wine. If you detect smells such as wet wood, mold or fungus, there is a good chance that your wine is corked.

  1. Use another glass

If once you have tasted it your palate confirms your suspicion, try again the wine with another glass. Rinse it in hot water to avoid any residue of dust or washing up liquid.

  1. Decant your wine

If the doubt persists, decant your wine. The aeration process has the effect of accentuating the qualities of the wine as well as its faults. If the smell that you noticed earlier persits and the wine is still unpleasant on the palate – no doubt, your wine is corked.

What causes it and how to avoid it?

The main cause of this phenomenon is the cork itself. Cork, in contact with a molecule called TCA (trichloroanisole), can then contract a disease that can on its turn migrate into wine. This molecule can also affect the wood of the casks or the barrels, and thus, contaminate the wine at that stage.

Despite the fact that the cork industry has made a lots of progress, there is always a risk. Even the most prestigious wineries can be affected by this problem. Note that a wine that is corked is not bad for your health, it is simply unpleasant.

How to avoid a wine getting corked

To avoid this phenomenon, you can follow the next advice:

  • For wines under 5 years of age, prefer wines with semi-synthetic stoppers or screw caps.
  • On the winegrowers side, they can take precautions such as:
    • Allow storage rooms to be ventilated regularly
    • Ensure that air humidity does not exceed 75%

Unfortunately, there is no miracle trick to save a wine that is already corked. The best thing to do is, if you can, to take the bottle back to the winemaker or shop you got it from to exchange it. If at a restaurant, ask for another bottle.


To learn more

To make the most of your wine tasting, it can be essential to decant your wine. Which wines should be decanted? How to use a decanter? What are the rules to follow? Our oenologist Béatrice Dominé tells you everything. Read our article

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