Hello Sipping on Science! Sorry it has been a while, we’ve been busy competing in the pizza world. See our latest blog about that here:

What better way to dive back into wine science than to learn about the most overused “bad wine” excuse? – “My wine is corked.”


Cork is a natural product made of tree bark from a Cork Oak Tree typically found in Spain and Portugal. The first bark is harvested when the tree is between 25-34 years, the law states that the tree must grow for another 9-12 years before sequential cork harvests to allow for regrowth. An average cork tree can live for 200 years on average and can be harvested up to twelve times.

Benefits to a natural cork include allowing a minimal amount of oxygen transfer for the wine to age gradually, it maintains a tight seal through potential temperature changes, and it is 100% recyclable.

Disadvantages include cork taint. A “corked” wine results from the presence of the chemical 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). Surfaces containing plant phenols, chlorine, and fungi create an environment for TCA to be developed in the cork before ever reaching the winery. To test the presence of cork taint is both very costly and very time consuming for the winery. Once TCA is developed in the cork, and the wine is bottled with the infected cork, it easily transfers to the wine and ruins a perfectly good bottle.

Is my bottle Corked?

Open the bottle and smell the wet end of the cork. Does it smell normal or like a moldy newspaper? Pour a glass and smell the wine, does it smell like wet dog? If it does, you most likely have cork taint. Your nose can detect this smell below one part per trillion, this smell will be very distinct. If it’s difficult to detect, then don’t waste a good bottle, TCA is harmless to your health.

Temperature, humidity, or age does not impact the ability for wine to obtain TCA. If your wine has been stored incorrectly, this usually indicates other wine flaws other than cork taint.

What should I do if my wine is corked?

It has been found on average around 3% of wines with natural cork contain TCA, in other words, a corked bottle is very rare. If you unfortunately discover a bottle of corked wine, the best thing you can do is seal it and return it to the seller.

For us at Untamed, we take great measures to ensure our wines are bottled at their best quality including purchasing the top tier in corks. Although it is very rare for a bottle to be cork tainted, it is not impossible. Dane uses natural cork because he believes that the advantages for natural cork outweigh the disadvantages. If you think one of your bottles may be contaminated, please seal the bottle immediately and bring the wine and cork back to the winery. We will run tests to see what wine flaws occurred and gladly replace your bottle.