Science!: TCB with TCA

10 April 2009
By Tom Mansell

For this entry, I figured it would be easier to just make a video.


Some notes:

2,4,6-trichloroanisole, the main offender in cork taint

2,4,6-trichloroanisole, the main offender in cork taint

Polyethylene, the polymer that makes up plastic wrap

Polyethylene, the polymer that makes up plastic wrap

Cork taint is caused by accumulation of a molecule called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) in wines. It makes the wine smell like an old basement. Musty, cardboard, soil, moldy. It’s generally believed that chlorine used in winery/cork sanitation can combine with phenolic groups to form chlorophenols. Chlorophenols are very toxic to things like microbes which might be growing on a cork (or a palette or a barrel). The microbes, which would prefer to stay alive, will detoxify the chemical by O-methylation of the phenol, producing TCA and other analagous compounds.

I should point out that I didn’t really observe any plastic-like flavors or aromas in the wine. With shorter contact, you can probably minimize any off-aromas while still extracting the TCA.


Plastic wrap can make a decorative and shiny addition to any decanter or glass

Refs: Simpson and Sefton, “Origin and fate of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole in
cork bark and wine corks”, Aus. J. Grape and Wine Research, 2007

NYT article mentioning plastic wrap as treatment for cork taint

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Tags: , , , , ,

0 Responses to Science!: TCB with TCA

  1. David on 10 April 2009 at 10:20 am

    That’s exciting!
    Also, Ka says you’re going to be on PBS one day. =)

  2. ithacork on 10 April 2009 at 4:52 pm

    i’m going to take that as a compliment. i think?

  3. Lenn Thompson on 13 April 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve never done the plastic wrap thing myself, but I’ve heard that it works to strip TCA…but also other compounds.

    Would be interesting to repeat this with a clean, never-corked sample of the same wine in the mix as well!

  4. ithacork on 13 April 2009 at 4:08 pm

    i agree, lenn. the ideal experiment would be thus:

    (1) optional: question: can you tell if it’s corked? test: clean vs. corked triangle test
    (2) question: does saran wrap ameliorate TCA? test: corked vs. corked + saran
    (3) question: does saran wrap strip other flavors? test: clean vs. clean + saran
    (4) optional: question: does saran wrap bring the wine back to normal? test: clean vs. corked + saran

    plus ideally you’d get more tasters…

  5. ithacork on 13 April 2009 at 4:08 pm

    all blinded triangle tests of course.

  6. [...] have said that the variation between bottles can be tremendous. This is not only a function of the amount of cork taint present in the bottle but likely a symptom of storage conditions and the variation in closure [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *