The use of cork as a wine stopper allows the wine inside the bottle to come into contact with trace amounts of air, which facilitates the aging of quality wines, but also poses the risk of cork taint (Cork Taint). Cork taint is arguably one of the most common wine defects, and wines tainted by cork usually have unpleasant odors such as musty smell, wet cardboard and wet newspapers. So, how does cork contamination occur? Is contaminated wine still drinkable?I. What is cork contamination? As the name implies, cork contamination refers to the contamination of wine with a cork that has been sealed by a chemical called trichloroanisole (TCA), which is known as 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole. In addition, another chemical, 2,4,6-Tribromoanisole (TBA), can cause similar effects on wine, but not as severe as TCA. So how does TCA come about? It is actually the result of the interaction of phenolic compounds, chlorides, and naturally occurring airborne bacteria and fungi such as yeasts, Penicilium, Aspergillus, and Botrytis Cinerea. Although cork contamination was known in the early 20th century, it was not until the 1980s that TCA was discovered to be the primary cause of cork contamination. Second, how does cork contamination occur? While cork contamination is often found in wines sealed with cork, sometimes the winery’s winemaking equipment can also produce TCA, which can contaminate large batches of wine and even entire wineries, so that even wines sealed with screw caps can be contaminated with cork. There are two main causes of cork contamination:
1. Inadequate cleaning or the use of chlorinated cleaners in the winery’s winemaking process.
1. Inadequate cleaning or the use of chlorinated cleaners in the cellar or barrels can lead to TCA when the barrels come into contact with them.
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