You’ve probably heard of cork taint—when a wine goes bad because a cork is contaminated with TCA. Modern production has made cork taint much rarer. Even so, why do wineries still use corks to seal wine?
Good Alternatives Are Out There!
You’ve probably seen the alternatives: Plastic corks and screw-tops. These both work VERY well in eliminating cork taint, and many wineries, especially in Australia and New Zealand, use them exclusively. While some of the reason for cork use is tradition (and the stigma of alternatives), corks actually serve a real purpose and can improve the flavor of the wine!
Corks Help Wine Age
Last post we mentioned that oxygen is what makes your open wine spoil. Small amounts of oxygen, released slowly over time, actually helps wine age gracefully! This oxygen helps wine develop complexity beyond fruit flavors and softens a wine’s tannins.
Corks allow a very small amount of air (and just the right amount!) to reach with a wine. For most wine that we drink right away (many reds and almost all whites), the closure doesn’t really matter. For a wine that we plan to age, definitely a cork still makes a lot of sense! With no perfect solution, this looks like an area ready for some innovation!