Skanky wine is truly a buzzkill. There's nothing worse than anticipating a delicate, fruity flavor experience, only to be hit in the nose with a foul smell. Yes, it happens. Really "corked" wine -- musty, moldy smelling wine occurring after contact with a bad cork -- is unmistakably odiferous and occurs in 5 percent to 15 percent of all bottles, depending on which winery you interview. In an attempt to rid themselves of the cork taint problem, wineries have switched to screwtops or synthetic closures, but there's still plenty of wine out there ready to attack your senses.
The degree of "corked-ness" varies. Full-blown cork taint reeks of rank feet and really hits you in the mug. A musty, wet cardboard taste also indicates cork taint. But unless it's extreme, the average consumer will likely never notice the wine is corked. If mildly tainted, the wine will merely taste flat or have little flavor. An unsuspecting consumer will think the winery just makes mediocre wine and won't ever buy that brand again. That's what the wineries fleeing to alternative closures really fear. They work hard to lure you to their wine, and if a musty cork destroys the experience, the effort is for naught.
To learn the reason wine becomes corked, we'll have to go to chemistry class. A non-toxic chemical substance known as 2,4,6-trichloroanisole -- TCA for short -- lives in cork tree bark. Part of the cork-making process, bleaching and sterilizing, randomly causes a reaction in the cut cork and releases chemicals that cause an unfavorable odor. Once the affected cork is placed in the bottle, it intermingles with the wine and the juice takes on the flavor of the TCA substance.
This process takes a while to happen, so wineries have no way of discovering the cursed corks until the wine is poured. And not all corks end up with the TCA mold; the ultimate percentage is estimated at 5 percent. But 5 percent of a small, 60,000-bottle winery adds up to 3,000 tainted bottles. That's a helluva lot of money to throw away because of a 17th-century wine closure method.
So why do we care? Well, that's one in 20 bottles. And you could pay lots of money for that one tainted bottle. But if you're armed with the knowledge that some wines actually do smell like armpits, farm animals or celery, you can better discern the musty, wet cardboard experience of cork taint. So if you, or someone you love, smells or tastes cardboard in their glass, take it back to the store or send it back with the server.
Purple Mountain 2000 Pinot Noir ($16) : Light, purple velvet flavor with a dash of cherry on the end of the sip. Smooth as silk.
2001 Foley Sauvignon Blanc ($15) : You can taste the perfectly balanced oak in this pretty wine from Santa Barbara. Dry. Refreshing with a wonderful citrus aftertaste. Like drinking lemonade on a summer day.
Gallo of Sonoma 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Reserve ($14) : Wow. Fruit jumps out at you from all angles. Black cherry and dark, concentrated grapes provide a smooth, even experience. Damn good value too.
Wolf Blass 2000 Shiraz-Cabernet South Australia ($12) : Nice ripe cherry flavors mingled with black pepper. Friendly and approachable.
I could seriously live on their deviled eggs fried green tomatoes.
Always great to see new concepts in Atlanta, especially the pay-an-arm-and-a-leg-for-finger-food-and-overrated-cocktails variety.
My wife & I go to the Sparks, NV Outback every Sunday before we got…
tipsforjesus is one of the paypal founders, right? i think the jesus part is supposed…
KILL IT!! Love you guys!