Cork Taint in wine

 

Cork Taint in Wine  If you ever opened a bottle of wine and immediately were hit with a pungent odor (not vinegar) you know what I want to discuss here: “ Cork Taint” or wine that is “Corked”.  The term “Corked” is a broad term that people use to describe many undesirable smells and tastes in wine arising from spoilage to storage conditions to wooden barrels to just bad grapes.     However the chief cause is believed to result from the compound, 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, TCA.  The human threshold for TCA is in the single-digit parts per trillion, varying by several orders of magnitude depending on an individual’s sensitivity.  The smell has been described as mold, wet dog, phenol, chlorine, and others.  While harmless, TCA can make a wine undrinkable, except perhaps by me.   SPEX CertiPrep has been working on detection limits and the development of reference materials for 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole.  As you may know most cork comes from cork trees grown in Portugal.  The production is mostly from mom and pop business where the bark is striped, spread out to dry and treated with a chlorine containing chemical.  The chlorine chemicals are believed to react with phenolic compounds in the cork resulting in cork taint, i.e. 2,4,6-Trichlorophenol.  Some people believe these phenolic compounds come from fungi in the cork or in the air.   A number of vintners are beginning to use twist off caps for white wines, as un-classical a way of sealing wine as it is, because it provides a great seal.  For reds, synthetic corks are not as good as they should be, but they are improving and will eventually compete with natural cork, especially if cork taint continues to be a problem.  www.spexcsp.com

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