A wine decorking experiment

Last night I opened up a bottle of Gigondas that I’d been hoarding since 2007, Les Terrasses des Flauzières 2004 by Domaine Le Mas des Flauzières, bought in a wine store in Nice on a business trip. Sadly as soon as I took a sniff I knew something was wrong, there was that worrying aroma no wine drinker wants to smell; not quite musty wet cardboard. A sip confirmed it, the wine was corked – although not overly so. It was barely drinkable, but not enjoyable and I contemplated pouring it down the sink and opening something else. Then I remembered something I saw on a wine forum a while back, the discussion that cling film can recover a corked wine.

Decorking-1Always one for experiments I thought I’d check my facts and give it a go. Sure enough there’s a few references on the web for the trick, including Tim Atkin MW who answered a reader’s question in The Observer in 2008 citing his fellow Wineman Oz Clarke as the source of the info; “One possible solution…is to wrap a knitting needle or chopstick in clingfilm and stir the wine with it. I’m not sure how the chemistry works, but the clingfilm scavenges the TCA (as cork taint is known). The wine loses a little of its character, but is fine to use in cooking.

Jone Bonné of the SF Chronicle has also written about this back in 2009 using Saran Wrap (what the Americans call cling film) and citing earlier references while I even found a Scotsman article earlier this year where they say it’s an old Butler’s trick (how long has cling film been around?).Decorking-2

I took the bottle, a roll of cling film and one of my decanters and prepared the experiment. Pulling out a decent length of the film I rolled it up and pushed it into the neck of the decanter, tying an extra length so I could recover it later.Pouring the wine into the decanter I swirled it around, making sure not to lose the last piece!

Finally I left it for 5-10 minutes to let the film do whatever it does in mopping up the nasty stuff that spoiled my wine! I then poured some into a glass and the rest back into the bottle.

Amazingly enough the wine had lost most of the cork taint smell and taste, becoming a pleasant enough little drinker with a warm spicy aroma with a chocolatey texture and some fruit on the palate. Decorking-3I’m not saying the wine is great, but it’s better than some I’ve had recently and no longer makes me want to pour it down the sink!

I’m definitely holding onto this trick for the future, although I’m not sure how well it would work on a bottle that showed more taint than this one. I’d love to hear if anyone else has tried this themselves.


PS. As I forgot to take photos of this “live” I recreated the procedure for this post using a leftover bottle of Australian red from my daughter’s 18th (hence the screwcap in the image, which is not typical of a 2004 Gigondas!)

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