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Snippet of Decanted Wine Podcast: Critics’ choice: Sean P. Sullivan & Dr. Owen Bargreen and Wine Enclosures

Last Played: February 12, 2021
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In this episode of Decanted, listen to Wine Enthusiast's Sean P. Sullivan discuss "cork taint," a rampant problem in wine production caused by a compound called TCA. Cork taint can mute flavors, or worse, cause a musty "basement" flavor in your favorite wine. In the full podcast episode, Sullivan & Dr. Owen Bargreen share how they taste and review wines, the best ways to expand your palate, current Washington wine trends, and some of the alternate wine enclosures that are “cork taint” free.
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on social media. Sean is notorious for updating his followers on the number of cork tainted bottles he's encountered. Sean gave us his assessment of the perils of T. C A. Yes, so I first really started focusing on the issue of cork taint. Probably guess was about 10 years ago now, so cork taint for people who don't know it's a contaminant that can get into the cork of the wine. It can come from other places, like a barrel. It can come from the winery, but typically it's coming from the cork. And what it does is gives the wine, uh, potentially a kind of musty basement aroma and flavor. At its highest, you can pour Ah, wine, and you look at it and say, Like that does not smell good at all at very, very low levels. It merely inhibits your ability to smell and to taste the wine and so it can make the wine smell and taste like much of nothing. Uh, as a species, humans are incredibly incredibly sensitive. Thio. Try chloral Anna solve the compound that's involved in much of the cork taint. Not all, and so we were able to pick it up at very, very low levels. And so in my tastings, you know, I began keeping track of it a number of years ago. Now how Maney corked wines. I was coming across per year, and I think you know what has frustrated me. I see. On average, 3.5 to 6% of the wines that air submitted to me are affected by cork taint. And if you went to your grocery store and 5% of the groceries you bought were rotten, you would be enraged. And similarly if you went out and you bought a new iPhone and 5% of them just didn't work and they said, Oh, you know, 5% of their just bad Sorry, that's the way it is. People's heads would explode, right? But for some reason, in the wine world, you know, we are just told like a certain percentage of the wine's corked, and that's just the way that it has to be. I think there's also a perception out there. I hear this all the time that it's not a significant issue, that the issue has gotten a lot better, that the number of cork taint wines are very small. I had one winemaker say to me that the number of cork and wines was one of the 1000 which it's just not true, and there's mountains of data that show that that's not true. But there is a perception out there, and that perception is very harmful because what it means is, uh, it keeps allowing cork tape toe happen. I say this, and I'm not joking. Like I look at cork taint as an existentialist threat. I am writing and reviewing on recommending winds to people for a living. And every time someone is getting a bottle that is affected by Cork Tate, they will probably just think it's a bad bottle of wine. And if that because it won't smell or won't taste for good, it won't show the way that the winemaker intended. And so as a critic, if people are buying that bottle based off my recommendation, and that bottle is bad because of the closure choice that went in with wine, chances are people are going to think like, well, I don't believe Sean scoring that wine or maybe I don't believe Sean scores at all and so I think there are a lot of options out there on the market now for, UH, T c A free corks, and I think I personally there are a lot of arguments for and against all that. I will say there is absolutely no perfect solution when it comes to a closure for a wine. But I can say that cork as it is, an absolutely imperfectly closure, given the rate of cork taint that is out there in the industry. And I think it's imperative that wineries avail themselves to alternatives that are out there so that they can deliver to consumers. Uh, cork taint free wines in talking a lot about cork taint over the years. I'm mainly trying to raise awareness because there is an enormous amount of misunderstanding. Like I hear people say, Oh, I held onto this long line too long and that's why it's cork tainted with stored poorly. And that's the problem. That's why it was corked ated. No, the wine is corked tainted. The moment that cork with this tape compound goes into the bottle, that wine is gonna be cork tainted. And I'm hoping that by increasing awareness and trying to keep put pressure first on the cork industry. Secondly, on wineries to ideally, Dr Cork taint out of the industry so that the consumers are getting winds as the winemaker intended. That's the hope I have this problem that restaurants this. Last December, I was at a restaurant with some friends and we decided to celebrate with a bottle of 2004 Dom P. Okay, one of my favorite champagne's not in an expensive bottle of wine. Not it's an expensive bottle line and it za worst exciting moment. You know, you're all thrilled about the one like, Yeah, we're all thrilled about the wine. Like I know the one tastes like Try the wine. It's muted. It's not, like overtly corked, right? So my wife tries the line. Okay, Like, you know, we sit with it for a little bit. The other friends in the industry I'm like Thistle is not. It's not showing right. It's not massively corked, but it z corked enough where the wine is not showing, right. So you have to do this thing where you go back to the major D or the psalm and say, Hey, you know, I know I ordered this bottle of Dom P. But it's corked. I'm sorry, can you please give me a new bottle? And that's not that's that that puts the puts us in a tough situation. It's, you know, it's an awkward, you know. Ah, lot of people will say Oh, you know, you just tell them the wine's corked. Any, uh, good restaurant will take that one back from you. I don't care what anybody says. That is an incredibly awkward situation there. There are some places like a restaurant like are in 74 in Seattle that, like specializes in wine, specializes in wine service. They won't even smell the wine. They'll just take it back and bring you another. And it's no problem, but most places you're going to, it's a very awkward moment. You could be talking about a very expensive bottle of wine that you know the restaurant can bring it back to the distributor who can bring it back to the wind so the restaurant doesn't necessarily need to pay for it. But they need to go through the hoops of doing that at the very least, which is not necessarily easy. It's expensive bottle, especially if it's an expensive bottle of wine, and especially if it's something with some age on it that is essentially kind of
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