Cling film and corked wine

I opened a bottle of Barolo earlier, had the same bottle a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.

Immediately thought there was something wrong with the newer bottle, tasted foul, think it was corked.

It was no better after an hour or so in a decanter.

Actually it made me feel quite strange which I gather the compounds concerned shouldn’t.

Anyhow Googling a bit about his found an odd ‘hack’ where you put a ball of cling film in a vessel and let it sit.

Apparently PVC based cling film adsorbs the TCA responsible for the corked aroma.

Tried it and there is a discernible difference. Really weird.


Well, that’s a fix I’ve never heard of…not that I’ve had many corked wines, but I’m sure going to try it whenever…

Probably should have taken the bottle back to be honest!

Just seemed such a bizarre thing to do I had to try it. Certainly does something but after leaving it a while it may have done too much!

Sounds weird. Let’s ask @Rod_Smith for his opinion.

Yes it works. It’s only certain types (must contain polyethylene) and not all brands of ‘cling film’ (snap wrap) do, so check.

Wineries have used it on TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) contaminated barrels for some time, and it will bind with the substance.
TCA is a compound (derived from a naturally occurring mould) which occurs in wood (and other plants) treated with chlorine-based sterilising agents (it’s actually a lot more complicated that that but I’m sure you can google for more).
So, technically, ‘corked’ is incorrect as the wine can get the taint from any wood that it comes into contact with. But in practice that really is only a cork, because a contaminated barrel’s contents shouldn’t get to the bottling line.

TCA cannot do you any harm. You find it in other widely available goods. Packeted vegetables such as salad leaves and carrots, Tea-Tree oil (used in many shampoos) and even bottled mineral water.

The problem is that it is not only TCA that it binds with, and it affects/reduces some of the flavour compounds in wine, notably those that taste of fruit (esters). Nor is it 100% effective (unsurprisingly) at binding with the TCA, especially unless left for several days, which in itself will affect the wine’s flavour.

To be honest I tried it a couple of times, out of ‘novelty value’ interest but I haven’t bothered for a long time. But it’s cheap, so it’s worth a try I guess. Just leave the wine in a jug with the polyethylene at least overnight.

Three further things to note:
TCA has a low boiling point and so you can cook with ‘corked’ wine and the taint will not survive the process (unfortunately it’s not low enough for this to be able to rescue the wine).

If the sterilisation of the raw cork-oak bark is accomplished without using a chlorine-based agent, then the taint does not develop in the first place (although other anisoles can, but they are less pervasive). Sterilising with ozone is effective in this regard, and a few companies, notably one called DIAM are doing just that (ozone is a lot more expensive than chlorine, however, as anyone who has switched their swimming pool regime from one to the other can attest).

Cork tainted wines were in large part due to batch-sterilisation and ignorance/denial of the problem on the part of Portuguese cork oak farmers (almost all of the world’s cork comes from southern Portugal). Acknowledgement of the issue (after threat of lost business to alternative closures like screw-caps), centralised sanitation, better processing hygiene and storage of corks (as well as ozone and irradiation as alternatives) have all led to an incidence rate of corked wine far, far less than it used to be, although it will never be eliminated entirely. Human susceptibility to TCA is as low as 1ng/L (nanogram per litre) or 1PPT (part per trillion), which is almost homeopathic in its weakness (one part per trillion is one second in three hundred and twenty centuries) so not a lot is needed. I can usually smell a corked wine opened at the next table (this back when there were places called ‘restaurants’. Or maybe I am dreaming that.)

Full story/proof about cling film, here:



Thanks Rod, great detail there.

Th cling film I used (Waitrose) is PVC based - some site I found suggested it needed to be PVC, whereas your info suggests polyethylene. Maybe polyethylene is better.

It didn’t take long for the wine’s aroma/taste to become a lot less offensive with the cling film, but I left it longer and it seemed to lose body, and your link/comments confirm that these materials don’t affect TCA in isolation.

Interesting really if we consider how these plastic products could inadvertently affect the taste of other items wrapped in them (cheese springs to mind in various stores).

Is there any evidence that plastic or plastic lined drinking utensils could affect wine quality/taste?

Seems a long time ago, but whenever theer are major sporting events most pubs have to serve alcohol in plastic glasses, and some ‘events’ serve alcohol in lined paper cups like the coffee ones which aren’t recyclable. Naturally would probably not be imbibing quality wines at these events anyway, and plastic glasses detract enough from the pleasure as is!

Great tip about cooking with corked wine, had not realised the TCA would ‘boil off’.

I really like this analogy … doesn’t time fly when you are drinking wine …


It does seem a useful tip, especially if it saves throwing away that bottle of expensive wine you’ve had for years and have brought out fo a special occasion, only to discover it is ‘corked’. If it makes it drinkable even if not as good as anticipated it is a benefit - and otherwise the info about loss of the adverse flavour if used for cooking also saves compete waste.

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My first job was working for a cling film company. Borden UK in Southampton. But that is a while back now.
The best cling film was made from plasticised PVC. The plasticisers were quite nasty. And hence the market moved towards polyethylene ( PE) cling films. However, the PE were not very good.
The pink PVC based cling films were dyed pink to indicate low migration of the plasticiser into ,typically, a fatty product such as cheese.

So, if its pink and clingy, its most likely PVC. If yellow and not very good, PE.

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And as an aside, when I drove back to/from my parents house in Somerset each weekend, It meant using the A36 and going though Salisbury. Past of course naim.

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The problem with this as I see it, is that the clingfilm trick - although now proven to work - only succeeds in reducing TCA taint in a wine. It does not make a cork-tainted wine ‘not corked’, it makes it ‘less corked’.
To me ‘corked’ is a binary thing - a wine is either corked or not, and the degree to which it is corked doesn’t really make much difference to me. I wouldn’t eat an egg that was only ‘a bit’ off.

But I suppose if the treatment succeeds in reducing the TCA level to below your particular threshold for it, then it may be a boon. (Bearing in mind that all humans seem able to detect TCA at 9ng/L, which is still really not a lot).

I am exceptionally sensitive to TCA. I say this not as a boast, a) because I wish I weren’t, and b) because I am not sensitive to some other chemicals that occur in wine which might make wine even more enjoyable and easy-to-spot (although I have passed the exams anyway). For example, my sensitivity to Rotundone is very low. This is the chemical that makes Shiraz/Syrah taste of pepper. And indeed, pepper taste of pepper (and rocket, and horseradish). I could eat wasabi paste by the spoonful. I just don’t notice rotundone much.

The AWRI (Australian Wine Research Institute) runs a seminar on wine taints and flavours, during which they doctor samples of the same control wine(s) with various chemicals and from which you can determine your own relative sensitivities. It’s really fascinating and very useful (for someone whose profession is wine anyway). I’m not sure if it’s a general public thing or not, but if you ever get the chance, then do give it a try…

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I should perhaps add that the only naturally occurring thing in wine that can do you any harm at all is - alcohol.
None of these chemicals mentioned above is dangerous in any way.
Some red wines have quite high levels of histamines, which may be an issue for some people (if, for example, you know anyone who says that they can drink white wine, but red always gives them a headache, then it is likely this, and a ‘benadryl’ test [categorically not medically recommended for this purpose!] can determine if it is the culprit, and indeed might ameliorate the effect.)
And, apart from alcohol, there are many good things in wine. Plus, it tastes nice.

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Interesting! I need antihistamine for bites sometimes, red wine makes me sleepy and sets my heart racing once I pass a threshold. Maybe just dehydration. Anyhow I drink red wine infrequently now, buts it lovely stuff!

Thanks for the insights.


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It would be grotesquely unprofessional of me to suggest to anyone that they should take an anti-histamine medication to facilitate the consumption of delicious red wine. Grotesquely.


Haha! Hitherto I’ve put it down to a lifetime of enjoying a bottle with my wife, and possibly just age catching up! Just a dram of whisky is enough to calm an active mind after working late before bed. Some compensations.



My only experience of cling film and wine was from pouring a last glass from a great bottle of white and then deciding I didn’t need to drink it. Then putting some cling film tightly wrapped over the top of the glass and putting it in the fridge. I don’t recall it tasting any better for it the next day, but saved it being tainted by goats cheese, wild truffles, onions and the chorizo.

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As an aside…
We used to wind the cling film in 2,000M upto 6,000M lengths. They would be sold to rewinders to sell in the sizes you buy in the shops. A couple of enterprising employees bought their own rewinder, and could be found at local boot fairs on Sundays undercutting the supermarkets!

Me, I “borrowed” a 6,000M long, 300mm wide roll and “lent” it to my mother circa 1991. I’m sad to say the roll only very recently expired. My mother on the other hand is still going.


How large a diameter and the weight of the “liberated” roll of clingfilm?

Well, it was only 10 microns thick, but the overall dia. was about 14 to 16 inches from memory.

The cardboard core was 3 inches i/d with a wall thickness of 20mm?
Good mix of units there!

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almost as good as the fortnight acre bags of flour unit system.