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Cork Taint


I happily drink wine that has been bottled under cork, screw cap, Diam or other synthetic corks, in bladder with a tap etc. I have had tainted bottles of wine under cork AND wines under screw cap while on holiday in Australia that tasted like they were corked. I would have to say that the latter problem was a surprise and hasn’t been repeated.

I am no torch bearer for cork but it strikes me that if the cork industry could resolve the problem of taint, it is a much more eco- friendly solution than all the plastic and metal alternatives.


Aren’t they just!! Bringing back memories of my Passion Pop under age drinking days.

A few years ago De Bortoli started to release some cheap bubbles under screw cap, clearly designed for the on-trade.

Just seen that was back in 2012. Doesn’t seem to have taken off since.


But currently, if you pour wines ruined by corks down the sink and open another bottle, the difference is not so great - as most environmental impact comes from the non-closure part of the bottle of wine. It depends on what other assumptions you make. I did some back-of-the-fag packet sums on carbon footprint here: http://www.winenous.co.uk/wp/archives/2356

Incidentally shipping of wines from Australia is not nearly as bad as you might think either. Moving goods on large ships is extremely energy efficient - compared with trucking for example.


I understand that most things that come in to the UK on container ships contribute more bad stuff to the environment being moved around the UK after unloading than they ever do getting to the UK on the container ship.


Quite. As far as Australian wine is concerned, the key bit is probably getting it to the port at the Australian end of things.


That’s an interesting calculation Steve, and you do acknowledge that the tainted attrition rate might not be as high as 2%. But still a fair comment. Perhaps we should also factor in supporting the cork farmers and the landscape (trees are good for the planet, right?) into the equation just to give the natural (but riskier) product a chance.

In the end though I guess it all boils down to how often we encounter tainted wines and how likely we are to tolerate the disappointment and the waste of money and resources that this involves.

I just buy the wines I want and currently pay little attention to the enclosure. So I suppose that suggests that our experience of tainted wines has not yet tipped us against cork per se.


Apart from simply buying less and travelling less, which there does not seem to be much appetite for, there seem to be very few simple ways of reducing our environmental impact. It shouldn’t stop us trying, but I fear that tokenistic initiatives often distract us from more important things we could be doing.


Screwcaps: I also drink whisky - and recently bought an old (1985?) bottle of screwcap topped Scotch (a happy purchase and enjoyable drinking). My point is that the bottle level had gone DOWN maybe 5% over the last 30+ years - so unless screwcap technology has improved considerably - they are not the silver bullet remedy for aging wines.

The whisky had certainly oxidised - which wasnt a problem - however I imagine a wine oxidising over 30 years would be a serious fault.


By all rational criteria, this is absolutely correct. It’s funny how culture and conditioning make one enjoy the ritual of pulling a cork, and its associations result in the feeling that a cork is somehow a classier closure. If we’d all been brought up opening bottles by unscrewing, and someone invented corks, it’d never catch on.

I’ve visited and talked to several Alsace producers who want to use screwcaps, but only use them on their classiques, as the view is that the market won’t stand for them on the lieux dits and Grands Crus. It’s completely reversed from how it should be - the more ageworthy and expensive the wine, the better the enclosure should be. It won’t change there unless and until some really big French name takes the plunge; I can’t see it happening at the moment, though.


Interesting comments, @robertd!

We had a funny moment with our friends in Spain last month, who were really surprised to hear that we drink (and love!) wines with a screwcap closure. It is not a closure they come across - they only drink (and can really only easily access) Ribera del Duero, Rioja and Rueda wines - all under cork. They were genuinely baffled that screwcap doesn’t equal cheap/low quality wine. I found it difficult to make the case, not because they wouldn’t ‘get it’, but because there is so much tradition and quality associated with cork, it almost sounded like I was pleading against both tradition and quality somehow!


It is very market dependent, and I definitely get the impression that continental Europe is lagging behind. As I remember, Paul Blanck were using screwcaps over ten years ago, but only for export. They had two bottlings of some wines - cork for the domestic French market, and screwcap for overseas. Quite incredible, really, when you think of the extra expense that must incur.


I’d be interested to know when the ritual of pulling a cork started to be enjoyed.

Bottles and corks became common for wine around 1700, but presumably at that time people who could afford wine also had servants to deal with the mechanic of opening and pouring. Butlers were resonsible for bottling (hence the name) as well as opening the wine.

Apparently it was in the 20th century that wine bottles appeared on shop shelves, so my guess it that it was then that drinkers started popping corks for themselves, even if at the start of the century the middle classes would still have servants.

Note that in the context of the 8,000 year history of wine, even 1700 is a very recent date. As I get older, I realise “traditional” means it was always around in the lifetime of the speaker - but for me it might be new-fangled.


As an addendum, I opened the 11th bottle of a case of 2006 D’Angludet at the weekend to find that it was corked. This is the first bottle in a few months; they are definitely getting rarer.
I am very happy with screwtop having had only one faulty wine in at least 5 years


Just opened this to a rancid cork taint smell :nauseated_face:, pity was looking forward to trying it :face_with_raised_eyebrow:.


sure it hadn’t gone off because you put it too close to the fire ?! #StillSummer


I like the Gabb chardonnay - well oaked but not too much. That’s unfortunate.


Not where I live ….

I have one more, fingers crossed that one is ok.


Do you take it back to where you purchased it for a refund? Was it Majestic?


I had to start heating the house again on the last day of August! I was really trying to hold off until at least September but to no avail!


Majestic Calais :see_no_evil:, I’m debating whether it’s worth the fuel to take it across the city to my nearest one … probably not … however I will go if the next one is corked .