The end of corked wine? Secret method being developed by world’s biggest cork-maker eliminates the chemical compound that causes wine to spoil and stink of wet dog
- Chemical compound TCA destroys wine’s taste and makes it smell of wet dog
- Made when fungi in cork react with chemicals from winery cleaning products
- World’s biggest cork maker says it has found a way to expel TCA from bottles
- Boss of wine giant Amorim guarantees all bottles with their corks will not spoil
A worst nightmare for wine aficionados is popping open a favoured vintage to be greeted by a whiff of wet dog from spoiled wine.
But the dismay of opening a bottle of so-called ‘corked wine’ could soon be eradicated, according to the world’s largest cork maker.
Corked wine occurs when a type of fungus in the cork reacts with traces of cleaning products used in wineries.
This mixture creates a troublesome chemical compound, called TCA, which ravages the alcohol, saps its flavour and produces the pungent odour of a sodden mutt.
But the family-owned cork-making behemoth Amorim in Portugal says it has now developed a secret procedure to expel all TCA, thus saving the wine.
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Corked wine occurs when fungi in cork react with traces of cleaning products used in wineries, producing a chemical that is trapped inside the bottle. This chemical compound, called TCA, destroys the wine’s taste and gives the alcohol the unmistakable scent of a sodden dog (stock)
WHAT CAUSES CORKED WINE?
Corked wine is the phrase commonly used to describe the undesirable event when a bottle of wine, sealed with a traditional cork, is spoiled upon opening.
This happens due to a chemical called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) being created inside the bottle.
It is formed when naturally occurring fungi in the cork react with cleaning materials used to sterilise wineries.
It is this process and the formation of TCA which ruins a bottle of wine.
Stoppering a bottle of wine with cork is the traditional and much-preferred way to preserve the drink, often favoured over plastic corks and screw tops.
But the unfortunate lottery of opening a bottle to find the hard-earned liquor within ruined is a major problem for wine-lovers and makers alike.
António Amorim, 52, chief executive of Amorim, told a French wine magazine in an interview: ‘From next December, we will be able to guarantee that all the corks coming out of Amorim plants will have a zero TCA risk.
‘The new procedure will be able to remove the TCA and to expel it.’
Exactly what the procedure is and what chemicals it involves remains a mystery as Amorim says the method is pending patent approval.
The financial benefit of creating such a method to guarantee against TCA would be immense, as it has been a financial leech for the wine industry for decades.
Mr Amorim took the helm of the company after his uber-rich uncle, with an estimated net worth of $4 billion, died in 2017.
The late wine-lover was Portugal’s richest man and received the moniker ‘King of Cork’ due to the fact his firm makes more than a third of all corks used globally.
Other attempts to rid the industry of the corked wine plague involve using gas chromatography, electronic nose and even sniffer dogs.
But these methods are often slow and expensive, meaning TCA-proof corks are regularly reserved for only the most high-end wines.
According to Mr Amorim, the mysterious method, which involves steam and other unknown steps, will be more economical.
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