What is up guys?
Julien Miquel here of Social Vignerons. Welcome back to another one video.
So, do you know much about corked wine? Or don’t you? Whatever you already know I am
sure you are going to learn something today, because these are my top 5 facts
you didn’t know about cork taint. We are going to be discussing
why so many wines, annoyingly, are corked. I am probably also going to give you
another 198 facts about cork taint. So, stay tuned, fasten your seat belt,
open your ears wide, let’s go! Fact #1: cork taint is not given by only one
molecule. You probably think it’s only TCA and we’ll talk about later, but it’s in fact given by a family of molecules. First I am going to be talking,
for about 30 seconds, about the chemistry of cork taint. Because, hey! this is a video about things
you didn’t know about cork taint, right? Also, because the chemistry of wine, even though it’s not super fun, it’s gonna help us understand where the cork taint comes from and this will help us a lot later on in the video. So bare with me a little here.
Cork taint comes from a molecule called Anisole. This right here is what a
molecule of anisole looks like. On top of that molecule are going to be glued some atoms of chlorine. The most common is that 3 atoms of chlorine are glued on
top of the anisole and that’s why we attribute cork taint to TCA or Tri chloro anisole, but sometimes only two atoms of chlorine are stuck on the anisole and that’s called Di chloro anisole or sometimes four atoms of
chlorine are bounded to it, that’s tetra chloro anisole, TCA as well. Sometimes tanisole also gets glued atoms of bromine instead, 2, 3 or 4 atoms
of bromine so that’s DBA, TBA and TBA. I know it’s all a little boring but what
you didn’t know is that cork taing is not only TCA, it’s not only attributed to one
molecule but rather a family of molecules. Where do these molecules
come from? Essentially, the anisole and the gluing of chlorine atoms on it are made by microorganisms that are present in wood including cork. So something you
probably also didn’t know is that the origin of cork taint can be other things
than the cork itself. Cork taint can come from a variety of
contamination sources, virtually any wood, any source of wood, that gets any close
to the wine can contaminate and give the wine taint and that’s because any
wood that’s got those microorganisms on it with some chlorine in the environment.
Let’s remind everyone that chlorine, including the chlorine in your tap water,
chlorine is volatile so it flies and it evaporates and floats in the air like this
so any wood that is a little humid with microorganisms on it
are going to capture some of the chlorine and stick it onto the anisole.
Then the anisole is also volatile and it can go into the wine and this process starts at
the winery itself. Many wineries, many old wineries, that had wood structures or wood palettes or any source of bad, humid, rotten wood into them can have entire
tanks contaminated by cork taint. Cork taint is not always all about the cork.
Cork taste can even come from your own cellar! If you store your bottles in a humid cellar full of fungi with some wood into it, the fungi may capture some
of the chlorine in the air and stick it onto an anisole. The taint may
slowly but surely go through the cork of your bottles and contaminate your wine.
So beware where you store your bottles.
Although it is true that in most cases, the contamination of cork taint comes from the
cook itself because the microorganisms that live on the cork have captured some
chlorine and produced some TCA and the family of bad molecules into the cork.
Of course, when the cork is tapped into the bottle, ii contaminates the wine
and this is why it is believed that between 1% and 7% of all wines that
are bottled under natural cork are contaminated in some way or another by cork taint.
This leads us to fact #2, if you can’t identify the smell of cork
taint into a wine it doesn’t mean that the wine is not affected by cork taint
and TCA. Essentially, and this you already know, cork taint smells like wet cardboard,
fungus, rotten wood, old moldy dust. But that’s if the concentration of
TCA in your wine is high enough that you can actually smell and identify the TCA.
In many cases the concentration of TCA is very low so it doesn’t really smell
bad or smell like cardboard. But what TCA does is that it fades out
all the other aromas of your wine. It fades out all fruity aromas and all the spices
and all the oak influences as well. It flattens the aromatic profile of
your wine. So sometimes when you open a bottle of wine that you know, and you
find it a little tamed, a little shy, and you don’t understand why, it may be
because the it is cork tainted, even though it doesn’t smell or feel really really bad. But TCA does that! Fact #3: cork taint doesn’t
only smell bad it also tastes bad. It affects the taste of the wine as well
and often you’ve probably already tried corked wine. It smells horribly bad and
it sticks to you taste buds because it’s a very powerful very
pungent aroma, a very pungent fault. But it also destroys the palate structure,
it also destroys the palate textures, all the balance of the wine, and it sort of
affects your taste buds, makes the wine taste really harsh. So that’s why cork taint
is so horrible: because it’s smells horrible and it also tastes horrible too.
So even if you taste your wine like this, it’s still going to taste horrible! And, it gets even worse with our Fact #4:
we are not all equal against cork taint! Cork taint and the family of molecules that cause it
can be smelt, be perceived by our nose and our senses
at very very tiny, a very low concentration in our wine. This is also why so many
wines are affected because just a tiny bit sometimes as low as one part per million,
can affect the wine, can make the wine dull or smell bad.
We’re not all equipped with as good sensors to smell and identify TCA.
Some people can smell it at one part per million, some people can smell it at 20 parts per
50 parts per million, sometimes it said that untrained palates can not
even detect it below a 100 parts per million. So you could be smelling it really really well
because you detect it at 1 part per million but someone else
may not be able to detect it at 50 parts per million. So one could be 50 times less
sensitive to that molecule. This is why sometimes YOU smell it, but your friends don’t. Sometimes you smell it, but the sommelier at your restaurant doesn’t!
Sometimes you bring back the bottle at your wine shop and you say: “hey this is corked”
and the guy at the shop doesn’t smell it. It may not be because he doesn’t know his wine very well,
it may simply be that he he doesn’t smell TCA really well or as well
as you do.
This leads us to point, fact #5: you can reject a wine at a
restaurant if it is corked, or you can return it to a wine shop if it is corked.
Not everyone knows this, but the producer is responsible for reimbursing the shop
or providing a new bottle to a shop, if a corked wine bottle is returned
It’s the producer’s responsibility to get back to the cork manufacturer
and say: “hey I had this many corks that were faulty”.
So this is a bit of a controversial topic obviously, in the retail, in the restaurant industry,
because wine shops don’t want to be dealing with returning bottles
and sommeliers want to be getting back to the producer and trying to get a
replacement bottle. But it is your right as a consumer to do so.
So how do we avoid cork taint? you may be wondering… Well unfortunately for a wine that is
corked under natural cork, even agglomerated cork, there’s not a whole lot of solutions for us. Many cork manufacturers test the cork for faults, and they’re getting a lot and a lot better these days. They are doing it to eliminate any cork
that may be contaminated, so that the percentage of affected bottle has dramatically gone down over the last 10 or 20 years.
The only way to avoid completely cork contamination almost entirely, because it’s not always about the cork,
sometimes it happens at the winery, so it’s never gonna be a 100%
but the best way to avoid cork contamination is plastic corks!
But they’re not fantastic for aging the wines, or screw caps. Those can be really good for aging wines
as well, I’m actually going to be releasing soon a video about comparing
white wines aged under cork and others aged under screw caps, so stay tuned this is going to come out in a few weeks, stay tuned to the channel for this. But screw caps are absolutely the best way to avoid cork and that’s why countries
like New Zealand and Australia are really really pushing and leading the
way towards more and more screw cap. But many countries prefer and love the cork
and uncorking the bottle still. So this was me! I hope you enjoyed this video.
I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have about cork taint.
Also, before I let you go: Question of the day: do you like your wine,
do you prefer your wine under cork, do you like the gesture of opening the cork
with the traditional gesture or would you be ready to be moving towards buying
more and more wines bottled under screw cap? Or do you hate natural corks because many are corked? Also,i n the comments down below,
let me know where you’re from when answering this question, because this
seems to be a geography-sensitive question and people from different
countries have different opinions. I’d be very very interested to know your
opinion and see where everyone stands. I will be very soon, on this channel,
reviewing some Chinese wines. This is going to be my first time trying Chinese wine
so I’m very curious to see and taste what they taste like!
That might interest you as well and I’m going to be reviewing some English
sparkling wines! I’,very curious to find out what they tastes like. So if you like wine if
you like learning about wine stay tuned to the channel.
I will see you soon in the wine world… Cheers!