Wine expert Anthony Giglio is constantly fielding questions about the great grape from amateur drinkers and pro collectors alike. Now you can ask him yours: Tweet it to him at @WineWiseGuy and check back every Tuesday afternoon for the answer.
The answer: According to the esteemed author @JancisRobinson, who edits the Oxford Companion to Wine, "It is commonly, but erroneously, believed that a wine with small fragments of cork floating in it is 'corked.' This may be a serving fault but is certainly not a wine fault."
Well put. This particular affliction occurs when a wine sealed with a cork (versus a screw cap) exudes musty, moldy, cardboardy, wet dog aromas. The culprit: a nasty organic compound called 2,4,6-trichloranisole, or TCA, which is a microbial fungus that live in some corks. When TCA comes in contact with wine it ruins it, dulling its fruit and giving it that awful aroma. It's estimated that 5-12% of all wines sealed with corks are infected with TCA.
The good news: It can't hurt you at all if you drink it, but trust me, you don't want to. But would I cook with a wine that's corked? Not a chance! My rule of thumb is to cook only with wines that I would drink, and most especially wines that I like to drink while cooking. I often buy cheap, light, non-oaked whites at my local shop for five or six bucks to cook with (like pinot grigio). What I never, ever buy is anything labeled "cooking wine," which is a science project in a bottle.
—Follow Anthony Giglio on Twitter at @WineWiseGuy.
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