Cork disease

And again the heading “We asked – we answer!”

Fortunately, wine is not a constant and not a soulless substance. It also gets sick. One of these diseases is “congestion disease”.

We will try to explain everything you need to know about it below as clearly as possible and, if possible, not very long and tedious.

Some of you have already heard that there is such a chemical compound TXA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole). It appears as a result of the activity of fungi and mold (with the mandatory presence of fungicides bromo- and chlorophenol, toxic to molds), which initially live and “feast” in natural cork (or got into it at the production of unscrupulous winemakers). The compound itself is completely harmless to health, but once it gets into wine, it catastrophically affects its aroma and, as a result, tastes not for the best.

– Now it was not boring at all, right?

– Well, so … this is all Mikhail @winescience dictated by ear

To this compound we can add one more – tribromoanisole (TBA), which goes hand in hand in the context of cork disease with TXA, but this is already excess chemistry. We don’t need it yet.

This disease occurs in about 5% of wines with natural cork. And in fact, maybe less (or more?). It is almost impossible to calculate the exact amount. The fact is that the percentage of sick and contaminated wines is decreasing in proportion to the growth of modern technologies, the improvement of methods for combating microbiology in production and preliminary diagnosis of the presence of the aforementioned substance in the cork.

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Mechanism of action

Recent Japanese studies show that TXA affects our receptors indirectly, simply by blocking their ability to perceive and respond to other odors.

Why then does the wine have such strange musty tones, if the TXA and TBA themselves have almost no smell? Most likely, scientists believe, our brain does not receive the desired and expected aroma simply translates the status of the wine into “spoiled, alarm!” and broadcasts it in the form of those very unpleasant and characteristic notes.

How do you understand that wine has a “cork”?

There will be a very specific smell and a set of unpleasant descriptors: a musty basement, rotten wood, dog, wet cardboard. And most importantly, there will be nothing “joyful” in your wine: neither fruity, nor berry, and no other floral-honey aroma that you expect to catch there. The taste of the wine will be flat and very nasty.

With a small content of TCA in wine, this “bouquet” may not be found. It may seem simply “boring” and with very little flavor.

The sensations will be similar to those of trying to drink wine with a tightly stuffy nose and snot up to the knees.

Without proper experience, it is difficult to understand that wine is spoiled. It may seem that it is simply tasteless. You need someone to give you such a sick wine once and say: “This is how, my wine friend, a cork in wine looks like – remember.”

➖ Important!

In the vastness of “these Internet of yours” you can sometimes find such advice: pour wine into the decanter / aerator and let it “breathe” – the cork disease will go away.

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Stupidity! The “traffic jam” will not go anywhere, but will only become stronger. The decanter, in this case, is a guarantee that everyone around will understand: the wine has “departed” to another world.

At our recent tasting, we did just that – we poured the wine into a decanter and arranged a small master class for the audience with a visual demonstration of what a sick wine looks like.

Cork can be fought by contacting wine with polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), a precursor to plastic wrap. It binds and adsorbs TXA molecules on itself. This method is not used in everyday life. It’s easier to return the wine than to dance over it with such a tambourine, soaking the packaging film in it, in anticipation of a chemical miracle.

In general, the prevention of the occurrence of TCA and TBA is much more effective than their further difficult elimination.

We hope that now there will be a little less bad wines in your life, a little more knowledge and skills to distinguish between sick and healthy wine!

Thanks for reading!

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