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Corked again

Last night was hot and steamy here in Madrid providing the perfect excuse to cool off with a nice rosé. My choice was a [granache->http://twis.info/grape.php?ID=180&select=g] from [Navarra->http://www.twis.info/wineregion.php?ID=251]: often crisp and clean with a strawberry and light spice component. I thought it would do the trick when paired with a braised pork loin. Unfortunately, it was CORKED!, and while it was not an expensive wine, there wasn’t enough time to go back to the store, buy another, chill it and hope it wasn’t corked again.
Today, as I’m poking around the web, I end up finding a good article on the site: [winberis.com->http://winberis.blogs.com/winberis/2005/05/the_concise_ind.html] recapping a piece by Jancis Robinson. The troubling part of the article is that it mentions cork taint rates are just above 1% of all bottled wine. This can’t be right, can it? In the past month alone, I have had about 5 bad bottles, one of which was not corked but bad nevertheless. Those five come from a total of approximately 30+/- consumed. Now, I know this is not a representative sample, as I haven’t tasted a wide range of wines recently, but I still can’t figure out why we would cling to corks when so many bottles are bad.

On more than one occasion, the people we have entertained would discreetly hint that they didn’t enjoy the wine we had opened. Having not tasted the wine first, I would go back and confirm that it was cork taint or another defect. What amazed me the most was that they confessed their ignorance as to what cork taint was! Consequently, many people blame the “cork flavor” on the wine itself rather than the 1 in a 100 chance of a bad bottle.

Let’s look at it from a wineries perspective. If you make a nice 2 Euro table wine and you hope to sell 10,000 cases to supermarkets this year, taking the 1 percent failure rate as our standard (though many argue it’s more like 3-10%), 100 people will not like this wine! Now, I may be unique but I like to recommend wines to people, and if I didn’t know that the bottle I had was a fluke, I most definitely wouldn’t put it on my recommendation list anytime soon.

My point is this: Google “[screwcaps->@google.com]“. For me, the first ten results are either links to places that sell screw caps for wine or stories about vineyards switching to screw caps. This might be a sign! There seems to be a trend, and while I don’t think we need to eliminate corks all together, let’s at least get the entry level hooked up with some new technology.

If the world is really suffering a [wine glut->http://www.economist.com/surveys/displayStory.cfm?Story_id=327372] and [wine consumption is down->http://www.aim-digest.com/gateway/pages/trends/articles/trends.htm] then why would we take the risk of making bad wine, discouraging novices from exploring wine? I am confident that if my first sip of wine had been from a corked bottle, I might not be where I am today.

Till soon, Ryan

BTW a good place to keep up on the dabate about corks can be found here: corkwatch.com