I think my wine is corked, what do I do?
Let's be honest, nothing ruins an evening like a corked bottle! Whether it was just purchased or you have been holding onto it for a while; it will certainly ruin your evening.
So what is the chance my bottle of wine is corked? Probably around 2-3%; which is pretty high if you as me! The good news is that corks are becoming less susceptible to cork taint (which is what causes your bottle to be 'corked'), and even alternatives are becoming more popular such as DIAM and synthetic corks along with screw caps. I am personally a huge fan of DIAM corks, which I have written about before.
So how do I know if my wine is corked? Firstly it is important to note that not all faulty bottles are due to cork taint, yet most people refer to a faulty bottle as 'corked'. Firstly let us look at what cork taint (or TCA to chemists) is: Cork taint is a compound found in certain corks that will turn the flavours found in your bottle off to descriptors of wet cardboard/newspaper. Can I drink a bottle of corked wine? Yet of course, however, I doubt you will enjoy drinking a beverage which smells like wet newspapers and has little flavour compounds ;)
So apart from cork taint, the following are other faults/non-faults in wine to look out for:
- Brett is a wild strain of yeast that adds a certain barnyard smell to the wine. Some enjoy this wine, and in moderation can add a different element to the wine. I am not a fan though. It is not technically a fault, however, some would disagree ;)
- Crystals or cloudiness in wine - this tends to be due to the wine not being fining or filtering. These are not faults and tend to be found in natural wines. Those who do not use any filtering or fining agents believe that by making a clear wine you are removing some of the textual elements of the wine. However, most consumers tend to disagree and prefer a clear looking wine. The debate continues.
- Heat or sunlight damage - This happened to me recently! When your wine is stored or transported in the sunlight or heat, a Port/Madeira style wine can occur yet with no qualities of Port/Madeira ;)
- Oxidation tends to occur when you have opened a bottle of wine and not properly sealed the bottle after use. It will turn to a vinegar style texture within a week or so. If you do open a bottle of wine; use a vacuum pump sealer and enjoy it up to 4-5 days after opening. Otherwise use a Coravin :)
So now we understand the different wine faults, what do you do if you get a faulty wine? Well in a restaurant you should notify the server immediately, don't wait until you have finished the bottle, as a courtesy. If you bought it from a retail shop then as long as you open the bottle within 6 months or so, most retail shops will refund you(In Quebec the SAQ guarantee this up to a year!).
I recently opened a bottle of wine which was faulty; I bought this directly from a winery, one quick email and they apologized and refunded my purchased. I should note that most wineries are happy to know when wines are not showing their best, if they receive a lot of complaints they might look into changing cork suppliers or hopefully going to DIAM :)
How many bottles a year do you open which are corked?