April 11, 2022 3 min read

It surely already happened to you to uncork a bottle of wine and to reluctantly discover (and in case it was the last available bottle even worse!) that the wine has an unpleasing smell.

Let's go reveal what the causes may be.

The most common defect to be found is the classic hint of corkiness.

In particular, the responsible of the corky smell is a fungus, Armillaria mellea, parasite of cork oak. Cork is the external tissue of the cork oak tree which protects the tissues of the plant from desiccation and unfavorable environmental conditions. A very large number of wine bottles are corked with corks. In case the fungus develops in the cork it will cause the so called corky smell in wine, due to the tricloroanisolo (TCA), which can be described as a smell resembling the one of a moldy newspaper or of a damp cellar. Among wine professionals it is estimated that a percentage ranging from 1 to 15% of wine bottles corked with corks have a corky smell. The real corky taste is only the one due to the odorous substances produced by the Armillaria mellea fungus present in cork. Planks affected by this fungus must be discarded since the very first phases of the production process, in order to avoid the spreading of the infection to healthy cork.

There is also a false smell of cork, organoleptically very similar to the previous one but determined by molds that can develop in the cork when bottles are kept in vertical position.

Choosing the right wine cork

Some tips to avoid corky smells:

The first among all is to buy wine bottles with alternative stoppers such as:

Screw cap (Stelvin): excellent solution for aging wines as well, but not congenial for nostalgic people who love corkscrews.

Synthetic polyethylene stopper: ideal for young wines.

DIAM technical stoppers: patent guaranteeing the absence of corky smell (TCA), made of treated cork powder and pressed with glue.

Glass corks: solution adopted by many people during the first years of 2000's but also often abandoned because they are too expensive and not ideal for long life wines.

Nomacorc Green Line 100% Recyclable closures represent a new and innovative "category" of closures called PlantCorc, obtained from sustainable and renewable raw materials derived from sugar cane. The materials used for the production of Nomacorc closures are of vegetable origin, 100% renewable raw materials, thus favouring the absorption of CO2 present in the atmosphere, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and, consequently, contributing to the fight against climate change.

Uniflair IGEA corks, natural corks produced with an innovative technology which ensures the absence of foreign smells in wines due to cork.

Choosing the best wine cork

As you can see, in order to make the best choice of wine, it is necessary to ask producers about their systems in order to limit as much as possible this inconvenience.

Delea's choices in caps and corks

We use for almost all our wines Nomacorc Green select 100% recyclable closures, as they are eco-friendly. These corks also allow a correct oxygenation and allow to modulate the evolution of the aromatic profile of wine and to obtain the aging without unpleasant odors.

For the most important reserves, such as Carato Riserva e Diamante, we use IGEA Uniflair Natural closures to make sure our wines, once on the table, are perfect.

Also in the spumanti we use guaranteed natural corks.

Going back to our NATURAL corks, there is no mathematical certainty that all corks are perfect, but even in very rare cases of problems related to cork, we guarantee the quality and we replace defective bottles if they are returned with the original cork and at least ¾ full, obviously with the original wine.

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Whatever the closure system is, it is advisable to keep the bottles at a temperature not higher than 15°C (59°F), in a dry and dark place and with a humidity lower than 70%. High humidity combined with temperatures higher than 20°C (68°F) favor the development of molds that could damage the cork. The ideal thing would be to create the best conditions for keeping wine in the best way possible with an air conditioned wine cellar or a professional wine refrigerator.

Freedom of cork is guaranteed. Cheers!

Try our IGEA Uniflair corks

Written by Enrico Grisetti