Have you ever opened a bottle of wine with great anticipation only to discover the wine tasted bad? If so, you may have fallen victim to cork taint. Cork taint has a musty smell like wet cardboard and can seriously reduce the fruitiness and overall flavour of your wine. Cork taint is the most common of all wine faults, and usually occurs during the wine-making or bottling process. In other words, it’s not your fault.
Cork taint occurs when a type of mold affecting cork trees interacts with bleach (used to clean cork). It’s estimated that as many as 1 out of every 15 bottles of wine, under cork, are affected by this harmless, but off-putting, chemical. And, while small amounts are virtually undetectable, large amounts can spoil the taste of an otherwise excellent wine.
It’s easy to blame the producer of the wine, but, in fact, it happens by chance. For wineries that use cork to seal their wine, it is unavoidable. Headway has been made in the last few decades to reduce the frequency of cork taint, but many wineries have decided to simply opt out from using cork altogether.
Remember: cork taint can happen. So, try not to get too upset. It’s a good idea to keep an extra bottle of wine on hand, just in case.