Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

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J a y H a c k
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Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#1 Post by J a y H a c k » April 30th, 2019, 11:46 am

I got into an argument (at a Passover Seder, where else!) about whether a wine can be slightly or partially corked. One side of the argument is that it either is or is not and that there is no suck thing as levels of corkiness. The other side is that TCA is a chemical and it's all about concentration, so at certain low levels there might be a slight although not completely fatal contamination. Any thoughts?
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#2 Post by Nick Gangas » April 30th, 2019, 11:54 am

I don't know if I'd put it as "slightly corked". Maybe lean more towards mildly or strongly corked as a better descriptor. But yes it certainly is. It's also important to remember that each person has a unique tolerance to TCA so while you may be drinking the same wine you may be tasting it differently.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#3 Post by Mark Y » April 30th, 2019, 11:54 am

I think there are degrees of Tca taint.

Mild. Medium. Heavy. Wtf. Etc
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#4 Post by Cris Whetstone » April 30th, 2019, 11:57 am

Once I notice TCA, whether strongly or barely detectable, I cannot not pay attention to it. So the wine is done for me. I've also had cases where I did not notice the TCA itself but a wine was showing sullenly and another taster said they detected TCA. So it seems to have it's effects whether low level or not.

I have seen cases where apparently normally educated palated individuals have continued to enjoy a wine that they knew had a low level of TCA.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#5 Post by aaronfullen » April 30th, 2019, 11:57 am

In my experience, there are "levels" of corked. Some are utterly undrinkable and other examples seem to give a faint hint of "corkiness" that also tends to mute the other flavors you expect. In the first case, the wine goes down the sink. In the second, you have a bottle of wine that doesn't deliver much pleasure and frustrates you over an hour or so expecting it to "wake up."

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#6 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 12:00 pm

Vote for yes.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#7 Post by larry schaffer » April 30th, 2019, 12:00 pm

Interesting question - and I think it has a lot to do with 'perception'. For instance, if you are not that sensitive to TCA, a 'lightly corked' wine may not appear 'corked' at all to you, but may to others.

It's really a challenging issue to me - and one that continues to frustrate so many folks. As Cris notes, there are many that continue to enjoy 'lightly corked' wines while others would not touch it.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#8 Post by Scott G r u n e r » April 30th, 2019, 12:05 pm

Yes and no. There are degrees of corkiness, but for me I can’t drink a wine that smells, tastes corked. So while there are different levels of corked, the decision for me is binary
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#9 Post by Bill Tex Landreth » April 30th, 2019, 12:08 pm

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#10 Post by John Morris » April 30th, 2019, 12:09 pm

Yes, Jay, there are degrees. You can measure TCA, and people have detection thresholds, like any other smell or taste.

But corkiness is not just a matter of how much TCA you can smell or taste. TCA also interacts with other aroma and flavor compounds and can interfere or even block our perception of them.

That explains why sometimes a wine that does not have the characteristic TCA smell of wet cardboard/mushroom can seem strangely muted (it may have just enough TCA to block other flavors), or why a wine with some TCA aroma can have lots of flavor (the flavors aren't blocked by TCA). It all depends not only on the amount of TCA but what kind of wine it is and whether its flavors and smells are susceptible to being interfered with by TCA.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#11 Post by Ian Dorin » April 30th, 2019, 12:10 pm

Leave it exposed to air for long enough, and it'll be completely corked.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#12 Post by John Morris » April 30th, 2019, 12:13 pm

Scott G r u n e r wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:05 pm
Yes and no. There are degrees of corkiness, but for me I can’t drink a wine that smells, tastes corked. So while there are different levels of corked, the decision for me is binary
Personally, I don't find TCA repellent, so if the wine isn't totally dominated by it and has other flavors, I may still be able to drink it. Lots of people who aren't attuned to look for TCA don't have a problem with corked wines, so it's plainly not universally repugnant.

But I completely understand your reaction. I'm that way with the mousiness you get at the back of the palate with a lot of low sulfur wines. Other people aren't bothered by that or can't taste it at all.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#13 Post by John Morris » April 30th, 2019, 12:15 pm

Ian Dorin wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:10 pm
Leave it exposed to air for long enough, and it'll be completely corked.
It will become stronger (presumably as the TCA evaporates out of the wine), but I find there are still degrees of corkiness even when wines have been exposed to air.

(This is quite helpful when returning a bottle. It's almost always more spoiled by the time you bring it back to the store.)
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#14 Post by GregT » April 30th, 2019, 12:22 pm

(This is quite helpful when returning a bottle. It's almost always more spoiled by the time you bring it back to the store.)
Yep. And the funny thing is, sometimes the guy in the store just doesn't notice it. I took one back last week. He asked what was wrong. I said it was corked. He said it was supposed to be - you could tell the screw-capped wines by the ridges.

So I explained that the cork was bad. He asked how I could tell. I said I smelled and tasted the wine. "Oh," he said. "You can tell if a cork is bad by the way the wine tastes?"

I explained it to him and told him to pour some out into a dixie cup. He did and couldn't see what I was pointing out, but the entire area smelled like corked wine. He gave me an exchange bottle anyway.

But to answer Jay's question - I think the answer is both yes and no.

In an absolute sense, the wine is corked or is isn't. It's like you're dead or you're alive. But then there are degrees of living - on life support, in extreme pain, etc. And I think wine is like that too - you can sometimes tell that a wine is corked the moment the cork comes out of the bottle and the room reeks, or you sometimes have to taste it, smell it, and let it sit for a minute and re-check to see if your assessment was right. Partly due to perception, partly due to other factors, and partly due to the concentration of TCA.

No wonder Jay got into the argument at a seder!
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#15 Post by John Danza » April 30th, 2019, 12:23 pm

There are definitely levels of cork taint. I've seen some situations where the typical corked smells/flavors weren't there, but the wine just tasted "dead". No flavor at all. That's a situation of very light cork taint, just enough to steal the wine's characteristics but not enough to really stink up the wine.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#16 Post by ybarselah » April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm

given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#17 Post by Paul Miller » April 30th, 2019, 12:29 pm

I don't seem to detect taint as much as my wife, but I have a friend that seems especially sensitive to it.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#18 Post by J a y H a c k » April 30th, 2019, 12:30 pm

Bill Tex Landreth wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:08 pm
My wife was a little bit pregnant once.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#19 Post by K John Joseph » April 30th, 2019, 12:43 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 11:46 am
I got into an argument (at a Passover Seder, where else!) about whether a wine can be slightly or partially corked. One side of the argument is that it either is or is not and that there is no suck thing as levels of corkiness. The other side is that TCA is a chemical and it's all about concentration, so at certain low levels there might be a slight although not completely fatal contamination. Any thoughts?
While there are degrees of contamination, corked is corked. You are not getting the same expression in the wine that you would in a clean bottle and that, to me, is the line in the sand. Sure, it might not be awful and many folks at the table may still enjoy the wine--which is not always the case with a truly awfully corked bottle--but it's not the same wine in a clean bottle.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#20 Post by Gordon Fitz » April 30th, 2019, 12:52 pm

This was a major story once in Laube’s history. He called a Chat. Montelena corked at a tasting and not reviewable. Laube claimed to have extreme sensitivity to TCA. No one else at the event could pick up the taint. I believe it was <50 Ppb.

The story is an interesting read in Laube’s history with all reactions it got from the different parties.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#21 Post by Ron Slye » April 30th, 2019, 12:56 pm

John Morris wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:09 pm
Yes, Jay, there are degrees. You can measure TCA, and people have detection thresholds, like any other smell or taste.

But corkiness is not just a matter of how much TCA you can smell or taste. TCA also interacts with other aroma and flavor compounds and can interfere or even block our perception of them.

That explains why sometimes a wine that does not have the characteristic TCA smell of wet cardboard/mushroom can seem strangely muted (it may have just enough TCA to block other flavors), or why a wine with some TCA aroma can have lots of flavor (the flavors aren't blocked by TCA). It all depends not only on the amount of TCA but what kind of wine it is and whether its flavors and smells are susceptible to being interfered with by TCA.
This is interesting. Are there wines or grapes that are particularly susceptible to TCA? I had not realized that it might affect some wines or grapes more than others.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#22 Post by Wes Barton » April 30th, 2019, 1:14 pm

Scott G r u n e r wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:05 pm
Yes and no. There are degrees of corkiness, but for me I can’t drink a wine that smells, tastes corked. So while there are different levels of corked, the decision for me is binary
I think that's the crux of the argument. Some of us can't tolerate drinking a wine where we detect the slightest amount, which others can perceive it up to a certain level and still enjoy a wine. I see that at sit down tastings all the time. Add in our great range of individual sensitivity and how with time the corkiness will push through more and more peoples' thresholds, the term "slightly corked" seems most apt. It's a figurative term with a clear meaning. (If someone gets anal about it, ask them to justify to term "corked".)
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#23 Post by Pasquale De Marco » April 30th, 2019, 1:30 pm

ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm
given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
Imagine a glass of wine has 1 oz of poison that causes 50% of humans die if they consume it and the other 50% experience different degrees of illness.
I think we’d say the wine is poisoned not slightly poisoned.

Imagine another glass has only ½ oz of the same poison and only 25% die with the rest getting ill.
Again, I think the wine is poisoned.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#24 Post by ybarselah » April 30th, 2019, 1:43 pm

Pasquale De Marco wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:30 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm
given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
Imagine a glass of wine has 1 oz of poison that causes 50% of humans die if they consume it and the other 50% experience different degrees of illness.
I think we’d say the wine is poisoned not slightly poisoned.

Imagine another glass has only ½ oz of the same poison and only 25% die with the rest getting ill.
Again, I think the wine is poisoned.
haha! well, we don't have to imagine totally insane analogies, because we know what this is and how it affects people. and that there is a level that cannot be perceived by anyone. see this for a good example:

https://www.etslabs.com/library/22

there are wines you've had that have been "corked" but that didn't register as corked to you, but may to someone else. that's not the same as poison, that's like a funky steak or an ammoniated cheese. so, we can get philosophical here if we like; a wine can contain these chemicals, but so low that no one could perceive them - are they still "corked?"

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Last edited by ybarselah on April 30th, 2019, 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#25 Post by Ron Slye » April 30th, 2019, 1:47 pm

ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:43 pm
Pasquale De Marco wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:30 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm
given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
Imagine a glass of wine has 1 oz of poison that causes 50% of humans die if they consume it and the other 50% experience different degrees of illness.
I think we’d say the wine is poisoned not slightly poisoned.

Imagine another glass has only ½ oz of the same poison and only 25% die with the rest getting ill.
Again, I think the wine is poisoned.
haha! well, we don't have to imagine totally insane analogies, because we know what this is and how it affects people. and that there is a level that cannot be perceived by anyone. see this for a good example:

https://www.etslabs.com/library/22

there are wines you've had that have been "corked" but that didn't register as corked to you, but may to someone else. that's not the same as poison, that's like a funky steak or an ammoniated cheese.
Thanks for the article. That is very useful. If I read it correctly it affects all wines in a similar fashion -- but different people may have different levels of sensitivity. That is certainly consistent with my experience. But I am curious about John's observation above that suggests it might affect different wines differently (presumably holding constant for the sensitivity of individual tasters). Does anyone have more information on that dynamic?

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#26 Post by K John Joseph » April 30th, 2019, 1:47 pm

Gordon Fitz wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:52 pm
This was a major story once in Laube’s history. He called a Chat. Montelena corked at a tasting and not reviewable. Laube claimed to have extreme sensitivity to TCA. No one else at the event could pick up the taint. I believe it was <50 Ppb.

The story is an interesting read in Laube’s history with all reactions it got from the different parties.
Laube killed Pillar Rock and BV and was right according to lab results on both occasions. Here's the BV one where Laube said all the BV samples were highly corked...BV contests...Lab proves Laube right...BV says "well, not highly corked..."

https://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/BV- ... 761965.php

Here's Laube's take on Pillar Rock. Note most folks threshold is about 3 or 4 parts per trillion.

https://www.winespectator.com/blogs/sho ... Wine_14600

And Montelena

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/ ... 726938.php

After battling Laube with a "you decide" road show campaign, I understand Montelena was forced to address lab results that did show that all of the samples Laube had tasted did have low levels of TCA which suggested a pervasive issue that Montelena then rectified.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#27 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 1:50 pm

Pasquale De Marco wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:30 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm
given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
Imagine a glass of wine has 1 oz of poison that causes 50% of humans die if they consume it and the other 50% experience different degrees of illness.
I think we’d say the wine is poisoned not slightly poisoned.

Imagine another glass has only ½ oz of the same poison and only 25% die with the rest getting ill.
Again, I think the wine is poisoned.
So, "corked" is a quantum term for you.

For me, there can be matters of degree.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#28 Post by ybarselah » April 30th, 2019, 1:51 pm

Ron Slye wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:47 pm
If I read it correctly it affects all wines in a similar fashion -- but different people may have different levels of sensitivity.
given this sentence, i don't think that's right:
all haloanisoles have similar odors, but their sensory impacts in wine vary with the specific compound and wine characteristics.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#29 Post by Pasquale De Marco » April 30th, 2019, 1:54 pm

ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:43 pm
Pasquale De Marco wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:30 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm
given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
Imagine a glass of wine has 1 oz of poison that causes 50% of humans die if they consume it and the other 50% experience different degrees of illness.
I think we’d say the wine is poisoned not slightly poisoned.

Imagine another glass has only ½ oz of the same poison and only 25% die with the rest getting ill.
Again, I think the wine is poisoned.
haha! well, we don't have to imagine totally insane analogies, because we know what this is and how it affects people. and that there is a level that cannot be perceived by anyone. see this for a good example:

https://www.etslabs.com/library/22

there are wines you've had that have been "corked" but that didn't register as corked to you, but may to someone else. that's not the same as poison, that's like a funky steak or an ammoniated cheese. so, we can get philosophical here if we like; a wine can contain these chemicals, but so low that no one could perceive them - are they still "corked?"

sola dosis facit venenum
Imagine someone intentionally gave you a glass of wine with 1/2 oz of the poison above but you happened to be one of those few unaffected.
Wouldn't you say they tried to poison you?
Last edited by Pasquale De Marco on April 30th, 2019, 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#30 Post by K John Joseph » April 30th, 2019, 1:55 pm

ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:51 pm
Ron Slye wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:47 pm
If I read it correctly it affects all wines in a similar fashion -- but different people may have different levels of sensitivity.
given this sentence, i don't think that's right:
all haloanisoles have similar odors, but their sensory impacts in wine vary with the specific compound and wine characteristics.
But here's my take. TCA affects the wine. If you cannot tell that it is TCA that affects the wine, okay, you can't perceive it. But the wine is affected. You may have a different take away about the wine (it's muted, good earth and leather, slight funk I'm digging) but it's not what the wine would be without the TCA. If the wine isn't identical in both situations, then corked is corked. It can be badly corked or lightly corked or corked but you don't know it because you can't identify it, but corked is corked.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#31 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 1:57 pm

Pasquale De Marco wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:54 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:43 pm
Pasquale De Marco wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:30 pm

Imagine a glass of wine has 1 oz of poison that causes 50% of humans die if they consume it and the other 50% experience different degrees of illness.
I think we’d say the wine is poisoned not slightly poisoned.

Imagine another glass has only ½ oz of the same poison and only 25% die with the rest getting ill.
Again, I think the wine is poisoned.
haha! well, we don't have to imagine totally insane analogies, because we know what this is and how it affects people. and that there is a level that cannot be perceived by anyone. see this for a good example:

https://www.etslabs.com/library/22

there are wines you've had that have been "corked" but that didn't register as corked to you, but may to someone else. that's not the same as poison, that's like a funky steak or an ammoniated cheese. so, we can get philosophical here if we like; a wine can contain these chemicals, but so low that no one could perceive them - are they still "corked?"

sola dosis facit venenum
Imagine intentionally someone gave you a glass of wine with 1/2 oz of the poison above but you happened to be one of those few unaffected.
Wouldn't you say they tried to poison you?
Imagine someone intentionally put sulfur, a poison, onto grapes...is that person trying to poison you?

Are there degrees of "saltiness," etc?
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#32 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 1:57 pm

K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:55 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:51 pm
Ron Slye wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:47 pm
If I read it correctly it affects all wines in a similar fashion -- but different people may have different levels of sensitivity.
given this sentence, i don't think that's right:
all haloanisoles have similar odors, but their sensory impacts in wine vary with the specific compound and wine characteristics.
But here's my take. TCA affects the wine. If you cannot tell that it is TCA that affects the wine, okay, you can't perceive it. But the wine is affected. You may have a different take away about the wine (it's muted, good earth and leather, slight funk I'm digging) but it's not what the wine would be without the TCA. If the wine isn't identical in both situations, then corked is corked. It can be badly corked or lightly corked or corked but you don't know it because you can't identify it, but corked is corked.
Is it 'corked' if it is beneath your threshold of perception?
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#33 Post by Neal.Mollen » April 30th, 2019, 1:59 pm

Absolutely there are degrees
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#34 Post by ybarselah » April 30th, 2019, 2:01 pm

K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:55 pm

But here's my take. TCA affects the wine. If you cannot tell that it is TCA that affects the wine, okay, you can't perceive it. But the wine is affected. You may have a different take away about the wine (it's muted, good earth and leather, slight funk I'm digging) but it's not what the wine would be without the TCA. If the wine isn't identical in both situations, then corked is corked. It can be badly corked or lightly corked or corked but you don't know it because you can't identify it, but corked is corked.
you're espousing a philosophical POV now; Can something exist without being perceived by consciousness?
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#35 Post by K John Joseph » April 30th, 2019, 2:03 pm

Anton D wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:57 pm
K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:55 pm
But here's my take. TCA affects the wine. If you cannot tell that it is TCA that affects the wine, okay, you can't perceive it. But the wine is affected. You may have a different take away about the wine (it's muted, good earth and leather, slight funk I'm digging) but it's not what the wine would be without the TCA. If the wine isn't identical in both situations, then corked is corked. It can be badly corked or lightly corked or corked but you don't know it because you can't identify it, but corked is corked.
Is it 'corked' if it is beneath your threshold of perception?
Yes for all of the reasons I stated above. If you open two bottles and they taste differently and you don't know why, and it's because one has TCA, it's still corked just because you can't discern WHY the two bottles taste differently.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#36 Post by brodie thomson » April 30th, 2019, 2:05 pm

There are three separate issues bring conflated as other posters have pointed out.

1. Presence or absence of TCA
2. Concentration of TCA when present
3. Taster's individual sensitivity to TCA

Since I am a wine drinker and not a chemist who analyses every bottle, I am only interested in #3. My experience has been that there is a very wide range of sensitivity to TCA in tasters.

I was in a tasting group where one guy had very high (extreme) sensitivity to TCA. In fact it got to be a bit of joke as he was always the first to declare a wine corked - so the group developed a TCA ranking scheme named in his honour. The ranking scheme went from one to five, his name is removed to protect the innocent.

1. Only he could detect TCA in a wine, no one else
2. He detected TCA in a wine and after about 15 mins 1-2 tasters out of 12 would agree it "might be corked"
3. Half to 3/4 of the the folks would agree with him that it was corked fairly quickly
4. Clearly and obviously corked but 1 -2 tasters would persevere in insisting it was not corked (usually their bottle)
5. So badly corked that everyone could smell it from across the room as soon as the bottle was opened

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#37 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 2:06 pm

K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:03 pm
Anton D wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:57 pm
K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:55 pm
But here's my take. TCA affects the wine. If you cannot tell that it is TCA that affects the wine, okay, you can't perceive it. But the wine is affected. You may have a different take away about the wine (it's muted, good earth and leather, slight funk I'm digging) but it's not what the wine would be without the TCA. If the wine isn't identical in both situations, then corked is corked. It can be badly corked or lightly corked or corked but you don't know it because you can't identify it, but corked is corked.
Is it 'corked' if it is beneath your threshold of perception?
Yes for all of the reasons I stated above. If you open two bottles and they taste differently and you don't know why, and it's because one has TCA, it's still corked just because you can't discern WHY the two bottles taste differently.
So, if you don't taste a difference, can it still be 'corked?'
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#38 Post by K John Joseph » April 30th, 2019, 2:07 pm

ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:01 pm
K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:55 pm

But here's my take. TCA affects the wine. If you cannot tell that it is TCA that affects the wine, okay, you can't perceive it. But the wine is affected. You may have a different take away about the wine (it's muted, good earth and leather, slight funk I'm digging) but it's not what the wine would be without the TCA. If the wine isn't identical in both situations, then corked is corked. It can be badly corked or lightly corked or corked but you don't know it because you can't identify it, but corked is corked.
you're espousing a philosophical POV now; Can something exist without being perceived by consciousness?
If you don't know you have cancer until it's stage 4, do you actually have cancer? Sounds like a dumb philosophical POV when applied to reality.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#39 Post by Victor Hong » April 30th, 2019, 2:08 pm

Bill Tex Landreth wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:08 pm
My wife was a little bit pregnant once.
What part of that pregnancy was so little?
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#40 Post by K John Joseph » April 30th, 2019, 2:08 pm

Anton D wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:06 pm
K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:03 pm
Anton D wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:57 pm


Is it 'corked' if it is beneath your threshold of perception?
Yes for all of the reasons I stated above. If you open two bottles and they taste differently and you don't know why, and it's because one has TCA, it's still corked just because you can't discern WHY the two bottles taste differently.
So, if you don't taste a difference, can it still be 'corked?'
Yes. You just have a shitty palate because we deal in reality, not false perceptions. Or at least I try to.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#41 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 2:09 pm

Victor Hong wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:08 pm
Bill Tex Landreth wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:08 pm
My wife was a little bit pregnant once.
What part of that pregnancy was so little?
The early part.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#42 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 2:18 pm

K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:08 pm
Anton D wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:06 pm
K John Joseph wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:03 pm


Yes for all of the reasons I stated above. If you open two bottles and they taste differently and you don't know why, and it's because one has TCA, it's still corked just because you can't discern WHY the two bottles taste differently.
So, if you don't taste a difference, can it still be 'corked?'
Yes. You just have a shitty palate because we deal in reality, not false perceptions. Or at least I try to.
So, then, what you really need is a guide-palate so other people can tell you your perceptions!

"This wine seems fine, but it may, in fact, be corked. I will ask my guide-palate to actually render my impressions." [rofl.gif]

There are levels of effect and perception.

ETS Labs says analytical sensitivity and accuracy only allow a minimum reportable quantity of 0.5 ng/L for TCA detection. So, is a wine with less than that still corked? For your definition, all wine is corked to some 'extent.' Reality sucks.

[cheers.gif]
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#43 Post by John Morris » April 30th, 2019, 2:20 pm

Ron Slye wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:47 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:43 pm
...
https://www.etslabs.com/library/22
...
Thanks for the article. That is very useful. If I read it correctly it affects all wines in a similar fashion -- but different people may have different levels of sensitivity. That is certainly consistent with my experience. But I am curious about John's observation above that suggests it might affect different wines differently (presumably holding constant for the sensitivity of individual tasters). Does anyone have more information on that dynamic?
That article only deals with the sensitivity issue. And there's a wide range of thresholds. I know someone who was tested and found he could detect it as one sixth the average level.

The article doesn't address TCA's impact on other smells and tastes. Grapes differ in their chemical flavor constituents, and some may be more affected by TCA than others.

Examples from other contexts:

- When you light a match in a bathroom, the sulfur/matchstick smell doesn't react with anything. It just makes it impossible to smell other aromas.

- Unperfumed detergents contain chemicals to suppress the inherent aromas of the cleaning agents that are masked in the perfumed versions.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#44 Post by mattccheung » April 30th, 2019, 2:20 pm

Yes, happened to a bottle I brought to dinner actually. Asked the certified som to taste as well to be sure and she agreed. Just slightly corked. Ended up getting a replacement bottle from the retailer.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#45 Post by John Morris » April 30th, 2019, 2:22 pm

ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm
given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
If you find the smell repugnant, I can see how it might seem binary. But that's really an answer to the question, "Is it drinkable?" not the question of whether there are degrees of corkiness.

I guess it's a bit like cilantro, which some people can't tolerate in any amount. If you're OK with cilantro, you are more content to speak in amounts.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#46 Post by Ron Slye » April 30th, 2019, 2:22 pm

ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:51 pm
Ron Slye wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 1:47 pm
If I read it correctly it affects all wines in a similar fashion -- but different people may have different levels of sensitivity.
given this sentence, i don't think that's right:
all haloanisoles have similar odors, but their sensory impacts in wine vary with the specific compound and wine characteristics.
Yes, good point. So that sounds like it might affect different wines differently. Anyone know which wines are more affected? Are different grapes more susceptible to being affected -- or are different flavors affected regardless of grape? In other words, does it affect Cabernet more than Pinot? Red more than white? Earth flavors more than fruit?

I do think that a wine that does not present to me as TCA may still be affected. As someone else noted, sometimes a wine just tastes muted or otherwise off. That could be TCA at a level that does not clearly present itself as musty or cardboard. My sense is I am moderately sensitive -- so I have had wines that I did not detect it, but others did, and the wine came across as something less than I am used to with previous tastes of it.

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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#47 Post by lleichtman » April 30th, 2019, 2:22 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 11:46 am
I got into an argument (at a Passover Seder, where else!) about whether a wine can be slightly or partially corked. One side of the argument is that it either is or is not and that there is no suck thing as levels of corkiness. The other side is that TCA is a chemical and it's all about concentration, so at certain low levels there might be a slight although not completely fatal contamination. Any thoughts?
For me, once it's corked, it's corked. I don't like the smell of TCA so any amount gets me.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#48 Post by Anton D » April 30th, 2019, 2:23 pm

John Morris wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 2:22 pm
ybarselah wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:28 pm
given the fact that it's naturally occurring that corks aren't the sole source of TCA and there is a fairly consistent perceptible range for humans, i'm curious what the counter-argument (that it is binary) could possibly be?
If you find the smell repugnant, I can see how it might seem binary. But that's really an answer to the question, "Is it drinkable?" not the question of whether there are degrees of corkiness.

I guess it's a bit like cilantro, which some people can't tolerate in any amount. If you're OK with cilantro, you are more content to speak in amounts.
Many people mistake a threshold detection curve for a binary data set.
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#49 Post by Gerhard P. » April 30th, 2019, 2:24 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 11:46 am
I got into an argument (at a Passover Seder, where else!) about whether a wine can be slightly or partially corked. One side of the argument is that it either is or is not and that there is no suck thing as levels of corkiness. The other side is that TCA is a chemical and it's all about concentration, so at certain low levels there might be a slight although not completely fatal contamination. Any thoughts?

Sure a wine can be "slightly" corked, meaning the level of TCA is quite low ... it´s depending on your sensibility for TCA if you detect it or not, and of course on the concentration in the wine.
Sometimes the level is that low that I don´t smell or taste TCA but I know "something is not right" because I simply know the wine ... and it´s "different".
On the next day the TCA is clearly there.

On last Saturday I had a bottle of 1969 red Burgundy - opened at 4 pm, smelling and tasting old and tired but otherwise ok. I had positive hopes.
At half past 10 pm the wine has blossomed into a very fine mature Burgundy, very enjoyable, sweet on the palate and really complex and interesting, but with a tiny bitterness only detectable in the very last finish ... I knew there was something wrong, but only for a few seconds over an hour I got the impression of very light TCA. Retasting at 1 am after midnight the last drops showed the TCA a bit more clearly ...
but all enjoyed the wine including yours truly ... it was just a tiny negativ hint ... but once I´ve recognized it I couldn´t forget about it.

Sometimes I wish to be less sensitive ... pileon
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Re: Can a wine be "slightly" corked?

#50 Post by lleichtman » April 30th, 2019, 2:25 pm

GregT wrote:
April 30th, 2019, 12:22 pm
(This is quite helpful when returning a bottle. It's almost always more spoiled by the time you bring it back to the store.)
Yep. And the funny thing is, sometimes the guy in the store just doesn't notice it. I took one back last week. He asked what was wrong. I said it was corked. He said it was supposed to be - you could tell the screw-capped wines by the ridges.

So I explained that the cork was bad. He asked how I could tell. I said I smelled and tasted the wine. "Oh," he said. "You can tell if a cork is bad by the way the wine tastes?"

I explained it to him and told him to pour some out into a dixie cup. He did and couldn't see what I was pointing out, but the entire area smelled like corked wine. He gave me an exchange bottle anyway.

But to answer Jay's question - I think the answer is both yes and no.

In an absolute sense, the wine is corked or is isn't. It's like you're dead or you're alive. But then there are degrees of living - on life support, in extreme pain, etc. And I think wine is like that too - you can sometimes tell that a wine is corked the moment the cork comes out of the bottle and the room reeks, or you sometimes have to taste it, smell it, and let it sit for a minute and re-check to see if your assessment was right. Partly due to perception, partly due to other factors, and partly due to the concentration of TCA.

No wonder Jay got into the argument at a seder!
Seems like the clerk may need some actual training on wine. strawman
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