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. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can putting plastic wrap in a wine fix a bad bottle? I’ve heard that it might make a wine taste better.

—D.N., New York

Dear D.N.,

Some people have found some success in using plastic wrap to mitigate “corky” wines. When someone describes a wine as “corky” or “corked,” it means that the wine is suffering from a musty, wet-cement-smelling chemical compound known as 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA for short. It’s not harmful to drink, but it is unpleasant. TCA can be linked to corks because the compound forms from a particular interaction of phenols, and phenols are found in corks, but TCA can also originate in other places, like cardboard cases, wooden barrels or pallets.

I’m not sure who was first to try this out, but a few years ago, wine lovers started talking about treating a “corky” bottle of wine by sticking some plastic wrap in it. The thinking was that the TCA would adhere, or “cling,” to the cling wrap. My colleague Harvey Steiman did a series of experiments with this theory, and members of WineSpectator.com can see his results.

What Harvey’s results showed—and what my own experiments have echoed—is that sometimes you can get small improvements from the plastic wrap, but only to a point. Either the plastic wrap doesn’t completely remove the TCA notes, or it appears to strip out the wine’s good flavors, or in some scenarios, even imparts a plastic-wrap flavor into the wine. You really are better off just opening a different bottle of wine.

If you’re going to start experimenting with this, pay attention to your plastic wrap’s ingredients. Most plastic wraps are made from LDPE, or low-density polyethylene, but some are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Most folks seem to agree that PVC plastic wraps work better in this scenario.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories