Spoilage by Imperial Wines of London
People say that wine simply wouldn’t be the same, if it were always sold in screw capped bottles. However, experts from Imperial Wines of London point out that this would, however eliminate the issue of cork taint. A bottle of wine is said to be corked when it has come into contract with another cork, which is infected with a fungus which produces the chemical called TCA. It is not the fungus itself which causes the issue, but rather the TCA which it releases. This TCA imparts an unpalatable flavour to the wine inside the bottle.
For hundreds of years, the wine industry has had to deal with this problem, and some of the solutions which have been devised include screw cap bottles, cork sterilisation methods, synthetic corks and beer bottle caps. Despite these alternatives however, corks are still used for most wines, and it is estimated that at least five percent of all wines are spoiled by this chemical. Unfortunately, Imperial Wines of London say that there is no way to tell if a bottle is corked before purchasing it, although you are well within your rights to return the wine, if upon opening it, you discover that it has spoiled.
However, the identification of a corked wine can be tricky, as the level of TCA may be present in a miniscule or very significant amount. A wine which is subtly corked will usually taste uninteresting, slightly unbalanced and fruitless. If you’re unsure, Imperial Wines of London advise you to leave the wine open for a few hours, as a corked wine’s unpleasant characteristics are likely to become more apparent after it has been opened for some time. Wine which contains high levels of TCA will typically smell of mould or mushrooms, and have quite a bitter taste. In terms of appearance, cloudy wine can sometimes be an indication of spoilage (although this cloudiness should not be confused with a wine’s natural sediment deposits), and with white wines, a tawny-amber colour is usually a sign of a corked wine.