A Major Cork Producer Is Promising to Eliminate Cork Taint by Next Year
But will corked wines be a thing of the past? Not entirely.
A bottle of wine can go wrong for all sorts of reasons—from crappy fruit in the vineyard to storing it next to your radiator and every stop in between. But among these problems, cork taint may be the most frustrating. Since its presence is unpredictable, wine with a natural cork going bad can be a crapshoot where you’re left to hope it’s not your unlucky day. But now, Amorim—the world's largest cork producer—says it's super close to making sure you never have to roll the dice again… at least with its own corks.
In an interview with La Revue du Vin de France published last week, Amorim CEO Antonio Amorim said that his company hopes to rollout an advancement by next December assuring corks won’t be contaminated with TCA, the compound that causes cork taint and can give wine the much-discussed “wet cardboard” aroma that comes with it. Amorim already offers a similar “non-detectable” guarantee as part of its existing NDtech program, which has been around since 2016, according to Decanter, but those corks are essentially cost prohibitive on less expensive wines. A company spokesperson told the site, “This new technology will extend that non-detectability status also to natural whole corks that are not processed through NDtech.”
That said, there are reasons to be skeptical. First, as a company that produced 5.5 billion corks last year, Amorim is known for spending just as much time advocating for corks—which have battled for market share against options like screw caps and synthetic corks over the past couple decades—as it does making them. Meanwhile, though TCA is obviously known for contaminating corks (the term “cork taint” isn’t a misnomer), TCA can also sneak its way into wine during other stages of production. For that reason, even if Amorim is able to guarantee that its corks won’t be tainted, it’s impossible to guarantee that any taint will be gone entirely because that may not even be the cause.
Still, as anyone who has ever tasted a corked wine can attest, the lower the chances of getting a wet cardboard wine, the better. Even with a small gamble, you might as well get the best odds possible.