ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr Vinny,

If I find a bottle to be corked, should I then avoid the wine, winemaker or vintage in the future?

—Thomas K., Northbrook, Ill.

Dear Thomas,

No, probably not. When I get a wine that’s “corked” or “corky” (suffering from the musty-smelling compound known as TCA, or 2,4,6-trichloroanisole), I don’t assume anything except that I had a bad bottle.

TCA is created by an interaction of mold, chlorine and phenols (organic compounds found in all plants). The compound typically develops in individual corks themselves, which is why it happens randomly. There are some instances where TCA can be linked to cardboard cases, wooden pallets or entire batches of cork, and there have even been a few incidents where winery buildings have become contaminated with the compound. But these are rare occurrences.

—Dr. Vinny


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