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Tyco cellar: cork pollution in wine
Cork is still the most widely used bottle sealing method, which is favored by many consumers and manufacturers. Natural cork can make wine contact with trace oxygen, which is conducive to the aging of wine. However, there is also a risk of cork contamination by using corks to seal bottles. Wine contaminated by corks usually exudes musty smell, wet cardboard and other odors. When you open a bottle of wine with expectation and are ready to enjoy it, you smell a musty smell or wet newspaper smell. This experience is really unpleasant.
1、 What is cork pollution
Cork pollution is mainly caused by a chemical called trichloroanisole (TCA), which is fully known as 2,4,6-trichloroanisole. In addition, the chemical substance 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA) can also cause similar effects on liquor, but it is less serious than TCA. TCA is not produced under natural conditions. It is the result of the interaction of phenolic compounds with chlorine, mold, yeast and other fungi (such as Penicillium, Aspergillus and Botrytis cinerea). Although cork pollution was first proposed in the early 20th century, it was not until the 1980s that people found that TCA was the main cause of cork pollution.
2、 Inducement of cork pollution
Wine sealed with cork is more prone to cork pollution, but sometimes TCA may be produced in wine making equipment, thus polluting a large number of wine, so even wine with screw cap will be polluted by cork. The causes of cork pollution are as follows:
First, all brewing links are not clean enough or chlorine containing cleaners are used. If sanitation is not in place during the brewing process, it is easy to breed various molds, thus giving birth to TCA. In addition, if the wine cellar or oak barrel is cleaned with chlorine containing detergent, the oak barrel is also prone to produce TCA after contacting it.
Second, some wood preservatives and fungicides were used. In the 1990s, many French wineries used flame retardant coatings and fungicides to treat oak barrels or cellar walls when renovating cellars. This practice is easy to breed TBA, thus polluting wine. In addition, some substances used to filter wine are also vulnerable to TCA pollution. As a kind of colloidal clay commonly used for filtration, bentonite will absorb a large number of compounds such as TCA in the environment, thus polluting the liquor.
3、 How to identify cork contamination
We mainly judge whether the wine is polluted by cork by smelling and tasting. Heavily polluted wines will have musty smell, wet newspapers, old and wet basements and charred rubber. If it is slightly polluted, it is difficult to distinguish it only by smelling it. At this time, it can be further judged by tasting it. The polluted wine usually loses its original fruity and floral fragrance, and its flavor is faint and tasteless.
Of course, it is not easy to judge whether wine is contaminated by corks. Different people have different sensitivities to various odors, the interference of various surrounding factors and the fact that the smell of cork pollution may be covered up by other strong odors all increase the difficulty of judgment. Sometimes the unpleasant smell in wine does not necessarily come from cork pollution, and we need to identify it. If your wine changes color, tastes insipid and even has a sour taste, it is likely to have been oxidized. If the wine emits a strong smell of rotten eggs, it is likely that the sulfur content exceeds the standard.
4、 How to solve cork pollution
In recent years, people have also made various attempts to solve the problem of cork pollution, such as no longer using chlorine containing cleaners, and some cork manufacturers have also made many improvements in cork manufacturing, storage and transportation. In addition, the progress of various detection technologies is also conducive to improving the pollution problem. For example, before making corks, the content of mold in bark raw materials can be tested. Portuguese Amorim, the giant cork manufacturer, has also developed gas chromatography technology, which can effectively detect the TCA content in natural corks in just a few seconds. Previously, similar tests often took several minutes.
During the tasting trip, people sometimes inevitably encounter wines contaminated by corks, so it is particularly important to understand the relevant knowledge of cork pollution. However, it is worth noting that although TCA brings unpleasant wine tasting experience, it will hardly cause harm to human health.
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