The Corked Counter

Last year I wrote a series of posts about corked wines - wines that have been tainted by 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). In the first, I wrote about how I came to believe in screwcaps and other alternative closures. In the second I wrote about the experience of six Washington wineries using alternative closures. In the third, I gave my closing argument.
Four days into the New Year, I arrived at my first corked wine. In this case it was a holiday gift. I thought coming across a corked bottle so early in the year provided a good opportunity to count up the number of corked bottles I come across in 2011. So this year I'll be keeping a personal 'Corked Counter' along the side of the blog. I encourage you to keep count of your corked bottles as well. Also feel free to add comments to this post during the year as you have wines that are corked. I'm always particularly interested to hear the occasion the wine was opened for.

Let the counting begin!

Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Hey Sean. You should also keep track of total bottles tasted so you can calculate a percentage. This would be a neat experiment especially if you limit your selections to WA wines to see the incidence of TCA taint in our region.



  2. Javier, was thinking about keeping track of the number of bottles in order to know what the N is. Hadn't thought about WA vs non-WA but will try to do that as well. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Great idea, Sean! I typically make a note in CellarTracker if my wine is corked, so I can go back and see how many and which wines were affected by TCA. So, out of my 1,516 tasting notes, 14 wines were corked, with 5-6 others heat damaged, or otherwise oxidized. Not too bad!

  4. Robert, this is awesome data! Thanks so much for sharing. Cool functionality in CellarTracker. I'm expecting to see somewhere between 2 and 4% as I keep track but we'll see.

  5. Hi Adam,

    For TCA, the hallmark aromas are "moldy newspaper" or "damp basement." It also strips the flavors considerably. Oxidized wines, in the extreme examples, will show more aged color than appropriate (browning) and also sherried notes. If you want to see what this is like, leave a glass of inexpensive wine out for a day or two and smell it along the way. In terms of heat damage, this one is more difficult. Extreme heat damage can make a wine seem 'cooked' where it loses much of its aromas and flavors. Additionally, wines that see lots of changes in temperature often push the cork up and let oxygen in so can wind up oxidized as well.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Hey Sean, have you found any corked wines this year? I read about an inexpensive method of removing TCA from a corked wine.
    Thanks Sean.

  7. Dan, sorry for the late response. I have indeed. Four wines and counting in 2011. Interested to hear what you read about removing TCA cork taint. The only way I've removed it is by dumping the wine down the drain! :)

  8. shredded plastic bags helps remove the TCA, this is only in slight cases but the TCA binds with the plastic. this of course is a dumbed down version of what happens.