Fixing corked wine

The idea of “fixing” corked wine by removing the offending molecule, trichloroanisole (TCA), is certainly not new. However, luckily for me, I rarely come across corked bottles. When I do, I almost always forget that this technique exists.

However, the other night, I was reading through the wine section of Modernist Cuisine, and noticed that they recommend the process, albeit with a refinement. At the same time, I happened to have a corked bottle sitting on the counter that we’d opened the night before. (I didn’t dump it because, although it wasn’t expensive, I don’t like to waste wine!)

So it seemed like a good opportunity to try out the technique. After pouring a sample into a glass for comparison purposes, I poured the rest of the bottle into a food-safe polyethylene bag. Then, figuring it would increase the available surface area, I added a piece of polyethylene plastic wrap as well. I swished the wine around for 10 minutes, then poured some of it out into a different glass.

Did it work? I would say yes, but with a qualification. The musty smell of cork taint was certainly gone (although I wasn’t blind-tasting the samples), but it was replaced by a “plasticky” smell that I associate with new zipper bags. It’s possible that the bags are coated with some substance that causes the smell and dissolved into the wine. If I get an opportunity to try this again – and I hope I don’t any time soon! – I’ll either use a washed bag, or a separate container and some plastic wrap alone.

Have you ever had a corked wine you wished you could fix?

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6 Responses to “Fixing corked wine”

  1. I just used Saran wrap. It definitely helped, though it wasn’t perfect.

  2. Matthew Kayahara February 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one, John! I’d be curious to know what the variables are that determine its effectiveness. For example, would it make any difference if it were a top-end wine (say, a first growth)? How about the age of the wine? I’d certainly be more willing to bother with it for an expensive bottle than another cheap one like the one I’m talking about here.

  3. We open many wines and come across corked bottles from time to time. I lost hope on saving it but never knew the plastic wrap trick. I’ll try it next time, hey it’s better than nothing!

  4. Matthew Kayahara February 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Do try it, Lucy! Even though it may not make the wine as good as if it had never been corked, it does seem to at least make it drinkable.

  5. I tried this plastic bag thing and am on the fence. i have a $120 bottle of Mondavi and will now drink it only hoping what i am now tasting is closer to what it was intended to taste like.

  6. Ouch, that’s an expensive bottle to be suffering from cork taint. As you say, one can only hope that the plastic bag trick at least brought it closer to what the winemaker intended.