Wine Bad, Cork Stained

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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So you’ve just opened your favorite red, and maybe the cork crumbled too easily for your liking, or maybe the wine cork has an odd color, texture, and smell. What does this mean for the viability of your wine? Let’s explore all the possibilities of a ‘corked’ wine.


Can you drink wine with a stained cork?

You most certainly can drink wine with a stained cork. However, you might not enjoy it. 

Stained wine cork, better known as ‘cork taint,’ is caused by a contaminant called 2,4,6 – trichloroanisole or TCA for short. TCA occurs when the wine has extremely strong, musty aromas.

An old bad wine bottle and some stained corks

Is stained cork a sign of wine gone bad?

When the wine cork obtains the TCA bacteria, it doesn’t prevent the wine from consumption. Instead, the horrible tasting notes come to show that it does indeed ruin the wine, making it unbearably unfavorable to the pallet.


Can you get sick from a stained cork in wine?

TCA (or more specifically, 2,4,6 – trichloroanisole) is a contaminant in wine corks that has no effect on the human body. However, it does leave an extremely unpleasant taste on the wine you’re looking to enjoy. 


Does a crumbling cork mean the wine is bad?

While many think that a crumbling cork causes the wine to go bad within the bottle, this may not be the case. Before you discard your wine, there are a few things to look out for. 

Typically when a cork crumbles, there’s a possibility that the wine has been overexposed to oxygen. Overexposure like this will adjust the notes of the wine. 

If there are no signs of mold or uncommon aromas from the cork, simply have a light taste of the wine to determine its quality before serving it to your guests. 

How do I know if my cork is bad?

There are two common signs to look out for when determining a bad cork when opening your wine bottle.

The first is a weak cork that crumbles with ease. The second is a cork that looks as if it has absorbed the wine – being stained and decently mushy in texture.

Final thoughts on Wine Corks

Drinking wine with a stained cork won’t make you sick but will drench your pallet in unfavorable flavors. A stained cork is a sign the wine has gone bad. However, a crumbled cork is up for the determination of whether the wine inside has gone bad or not. 

If your cork appears to have soaked up the wine and has a mushy texture, it’s a sign that the cork has gone bad.