Corked wine – not really a problem?

Corked wine – not really a problem? News Wine News
  • Thursday 24 May 2001

New research showing that fewer than six in 1,000 wines are corked has provoked disbelief in some parts of the industry. Last year, following mounting complaints, the Wine & Spirit Association commissioned research into the problem.

Mustiness is one of the main food and drink faults, and bad corks have long been thought to be one of the main causes of faulty wine.

The preliminary results shows that out of nearly 6,000 bottles sampled, only 32 were found to be musty, and that oxidised wine may be a slightly bigger problem. Overall only 2.3 per cent of the wines tested were found to be faulty, of which 1.8 per cent were suspected of mustiness – on further research, only 0.6 per cent were actually confirmed to musty.

Malcolm 'Superplonk' Gluck castigated the results as 'a joke'. 'I think the research is hugely flawed on several counts,' he added. 'Why do these wines need to be tasted? Why not just test them in a laboratory? Overall this is a huge PR coup for the cork producers. I know from tasting thousands of wines a year that the problem is much bigger than this.'

Michael Paul, managing director of Taste for Wine, is also surprised by the results. 'I had expected that more than 1.8 per cent of the wines would be suspected as musty. Equally I was surprised that the verified figure dropped to 0.6 per cent. We will have to see if further research confirms both these figures and the marked difference between what is thought to be musty and what is verified as musty.'

Peter Wynne-James of cork producers Sabaté said that 'We are pleased that the amount is less than previously thought. But our job is to ensure that there is no taint at all.'

Tests made using a very small sample other closures such as screwtops and bag-in-box give almost faultless results.

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