Wine Flaws: Corked
If you smell wet dog, old socks or moldy basement, you may be experiencing cork taint or the presence of TCA. Trichloroanisole. Recent studies argue that the cork contamination affects less than 1 percent of all wine bottles. The production of TCA in cork or its transfer by other means in to wine is complex, but most results when naturally-occurring airborne fungi are presented with chlorophenol compounds, which they then convert into chloroanisole. Chlorophenols taken up by cork trees are an industrial pollutant found in many pesticides and wood preservatives, which may mean that the incidence of cork taint has risen in modern times. Ironically, chlorophenols can also be a product of the chlorine bleaching process used to sterilize corks; this has led to the increasing adoption of methods such as peroxide bleaching.