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Dear Dr. Vinny,
If one bottle in a case of wine is “corked,” what is the likelihood that some or all of the remaining 11 are also tainted?
—Marshall, Pleasant Prairie, Wisc.
Oof, that’s a tough one. A bad bottle can be a bad omen: Wines are often bottled and corked in batches, and there is such a thing as a bad batch of corks. Keep in mind that even though we refer to wines impacted by the chemical compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA, as “corked,” the truth is that TCA taint can come from sources outside of corks. Entire wineries can be affected.
More often than not, however, I think cork taint is more random than that. We open thousands of bottles a year for official Wine Spectator tastings, and our observation of the statistical probability of a wine being infected with TCA remains fairly constant, at about 3 to 5 percent since 2010.
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