Corked: Describes a wine having the off-putting, musty, moldy-newspaper flavor and aroma and dry aftertaste caused by a tainted cork.
Aeration: This process of encouraging a wine to absorb oxygen is also called breathing. Simply pulling the cork out of a bottle may not allow for sufficient air contact; decanting or even swirling the wine in a glass are preferred methods. The goal is to allow the wine to open up and develop, releasing its aromas into the air. Ten to 30 minutes of aeration can help open tight young red wines that are meant to age. Some wines can also develop off odors or a bottle stink that blows off with a few minutes of aeration. Since older (15-plus years) red wines are more delicate and can lose their fruit during aeration, aeration is not recommended; the wines can evolve quite quickly in the glass.
Dirty: Covers any and all foul, rank, off-putting smells that can occur in a wine, including those caused by bad barrels or corks. A sign of poor winemaking.
Musty: Having an off-putting moldy or mildewy smell. The result of a wine being made from moldy grapes, stored in improperly cleaned tanks and barrels, or contaminated by a poor cork.
Tartrates: Harmless crystals resembling shards of glass that may form during fermentation or bottle aging (often on the cork) as tartaric acid naturally present in wine precipitates out of solution. Components of tartaric acid, including potassium bitartrate and cream of tartar, are less soluble in alcoholic solutions than in grape juice and solidify at cooler temperatures (such as those found in a refrigerator); can be avoided in finished wines through cold stabilization. Decanting and careful pouring can prevent transferring the crystals from the bottle into the glass.
Bottling: Putting wine into bottle is an automated process. The bottle is washed, dried and then filled with wine. Before the cork is inserted, a puff of inert gas displaces any oxygen remaining in the bottle to prevent spoilage.
Bung: The rubber, glass or plastic stopper that can be placed into a barrel’s bung hole, similar to a cork placed in a wine bottle. Barrels are usually filled through the bung hole.
Capsule: The metal or plastic protective coating that surrounds the top of the cork and the bottle. Before pulling out the cork, at least the top portion should be removed to expose the cork and the lip of the bottle.
Recorking: The practice of replacing corks that have become fragile during extended cellaring. Once the old cork is removed, the bottle may be topped up with wine from the same or a similar vintage and a new cork inserted.
TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole): A chemical compound that can give wine a musty, dirty, bitter, chalky character often described as moldy newspapers or damp cardboard. TCA can be formed in many ways; most consumers associate it with "corky" bottles, because corks are particularly susceptible to contamination by the compound. One common catalyst is chlorine, a widespread cleaning agent, coming into contact with plant phenols (which are found in cork and wood) and mold.
Screwcap: A metal twist-off closure for wine bottles; an alternative to cork.
Composite cork: Also known as an agglomerated cork. A wine bottle stopper made of particles or granules of natural cork pressed together and bound by an FDA–approved glue.