How to uncork your corked wine

by Tim Elliott on April 3, 2007

Does plastic really attract TCA?We have all been there. You open the bottle and pour your first glass. The color is almost always fine but you know you are in trouble as soon as you smell the wine. Musty, no fruit, flat, wet cardboard… yes, my friends, you have a corked wine on your hands.

This is caused by a cork tainted with Trichloroanisole, or TCA for short. Some also blame barrels and contaminated wood in the cellar but to me it’s mostly the corks fault (after all, we don’t call it, “barreled”). Somewhere between 3 and 7% of all wine sealed under cork are affected by this problem and there is not a whole lot a winery can do to prevent it but adopt screw caps.

So it was with a great deal of skepticism that I scrutinized the following wine hack sent to me by a reader. Since it was published in the Los Angeles Times, I will give it the benefit of the doubt but it seems unbelievable.

Basically, the article calls for pouring the corked wine over plastic wrap in a pitcher and soaking for a few minutes. The author claims that the TCA is attracted to the plastic and once the plastic is removed the wine can be enjoyed without this defect. This is either the greatest wine hack of all time or an elaborate hoax. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has tried this with or without success.

Until I try this on my next corked bottle, Vino Emptor ;-)

  • Gordon

    How do you spell April Fools?

  • http://winecast.net Tim

    That’s what I thought, Gordon, but the story ran well before April Foods and was picked up by some other papers across the country. As of today, I have not seen any notice from the Times indicating this was a prank.

    And I have heard that this actually works…

  • Rob (Sips)

    Alright, being another completely frustrated enthusiast that has had more corked wine than I want to admit, I had to give this a go.

    On Monday, I opened one of our everyday Pinot’s for dinner and it was moderately corked, so unfortunately, I got to try the Saran Wrap trick sooner than I’d preferred to.

    (This is long, but it’s the only way to tell it accurately…)

    So, I took about 2 feet of Wrap and lightly wadded it in the bottom of a glass pitcher and poured the wine over it (all except the glass I’d poured), then stirred it a bit and let it sit. After 30 minutes I tried it against the corked glass I’d saved and it was noticeably better (both nose and taste) than the bad glass, but I could still pick up on the TCA. So, I stirred a little more and left it for another hour and tried it again and it was amazingly better. The taste and nose were OK, not as fresh and cherry as normal, but no odor or corkiness…so at least it was now drinkable. I even had my wife try it to make sure I wasn’t “imagining it betterâ€? and she was also surprised how much better it tasted and smelled. And, I didn’t pick up on any plastic taste, which was another surprise. I still had about 4 oz. remaining so I rebottled, pumped and fridged it to try again the next night to see if I’d sense something different.

    On Tuesday, after having some Merlot with dinner, I poured my wife some of the left-over saran’d Pinot (she didn’t know it) and she says, this is good…what is it? I couldn’t believe it as she was the one who had picked up on it being corked the night before. I then tried it and it tasted completely uncorked…no smell or taste. It wasn’t as good and didn’t resemble the Pinot as I recalled it…but it tasted totally undamaged. Unfortunately, I didn’t have another fresh bottle to test it against, but regardless, the saran trick really seemed to work!

    Now I can’t wait to try this test again to do a more scientific testing (now I’m hunting for corked bottles!?). Next time (which sadly will happen), I’ll try this same process along with opening another (good) bottle of the same wine and try all 3 side-by-side (corked-saran’d-good) which will be the best way to test this. And, to have a least a couple others tasting to validate the results.

    Regardless of the outcome, I can say that I’m glad to have possibly found a method that “might” offset this annoying and frustrating problem all of us wine drinkers have to deal with at our own expense.

    -Rob

  • http://www.thecrossingstl.com Jimmy

    I have done it many many times at home and I have talked to many wine sales reps and when they have opened a corked bottle at my place, I place a ziplock baggie in it and tell them to sell it tomorrow. Many well known restaurantuers have bought the wine as great juice.

  • http://www.corkdork.typepad.com The Corkdork

    My advice to all this strange behavior is to simply re-cork and return any corked bottle of wine, providing it’s not something you’ve been cellaring for years. I’ve never had a retailer or winemaker refuse a return for being corked – ever. -The Corkdork

  • http://winecast.net Tim

    CD: Probably the best advice of all particularly if the bottle is expensive. But being a geek, I’ll put my next cheap corked bottle through the Saran Wrap test just to see if Rob and Jimmy are on the level ;-)

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  • Kjuel

    Hello, this works!  We took it to the next level by pouring our corked 1997 Cakebread cab into a ziplock baggie and throwing into the frige during a dinner party.  The next evening we poured it into a decantor and low and behold the wine was magically transformed to its delicious self, and it further improved in our glasses, unlike the second bottle of ’97 we had to open the night before! Wowzer!  Try it!! Amazing!

  • Kjuel

    Hello, this works!  We took it to the next level by pouring our corked 1997 Cakebread cab into a ziplock baggie and throwing into the frige during a dinner party.  The next evening we poured it into a decantor and low and behold the wine was magically transformed to its delicious self, and it further improved in our glasses, unlike the second bottle of ’97 we had to open the night before! Wowzer!  Try it!! Amazing!

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