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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Better living through chemistry: corked wine edition

What to do about wine that had got that musty bad cork odor? In the Old Biddy household, this is rarely a problem, since I only drink box wine and wine with screwcaps, and even when I don't, the quality control on "Two Buck Chuck" is pretty good, at least with regards to the cork problem.
However, if by chance you have a pricy bottle of wine that has gotten corked but you really want to get your drink on instead of returning it to the store, you can take advantage of some simple chemistry.
Take about a square foot of saran wrap and ball it up. Shove it down into the wine bottle. Let it sit for a while while you drink a different bottle of wine. The saran wrap is polyethylene, which is got a huge affinity for trichloroanisole, which is what causes the corky smell/flavor. The trichloroanisole will get absorbed into the polyethylene. Then, pour the wine out and drink it. It may not be perfect, but it will usually taste a lot better, especially since you've already started drinking.
I like this trick, mainly because for a large part of my career I have been making polyolefins such as polyethylene, and spend a lot of time thinking about them.

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