Synthetics are a small but growing part of the wine industry. They are made from plastic compounds designed to look and “pop” like natural cork, and offer a complete freedom from TCA contamination. What is TCA, you ask? TCA stands for 2,4,6-tricholoranisole, which is a fungus-produced contamination that grows in cork fiber. TCA causes cork taint, or the musty odor that can spoil an otherwise fine wine.
With estimates as high as 12% contamination of all wine bottles sealed with organic cork, many wine makers are seriously looking at other options, including synthetic corks and screw caps. There has been considerable lag time in the acceptance of synthetic corks in the consumer market as cork is seen as the traditional, elegant wine closure. However, many premium wine makers are hoping to nudge the consumer along by presenting them with the highest quality wine corked using a synthetic. After all, the synthetic cork truly does offer greater reliability and peace of mind if you are buying an expensive bottle or wine gift that you plan on cellaring for any extended period of time.