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Cork TCA and Off-Flavor Analysis

Non-Destructive and Simultaneous Real-Time Quantification of TCA and other Off-Flavors in Cork


Cork TCA and Off-Flavor Analysis

Cork is a complex natural material obtained from the outer bark of cork oaks (Quercus Suber). Its unique properties promote micro-oxygenation in wine, improving the aging process, providing better structure and color stability, and removing unpleasant reductive character.

Cork also contains a plethora of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can affect the flavor of wine. Vanillin and derivatives, volatile phenols, aldehydes, alcohols, terpenes, lactones, fatty acids, and furans are correlated to certain pleasant aromatic descriptors. Other VOCs, the so-called off flavors, are linked to negative aromatic characters. These include chloroanisoles such as 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA) and their phenolic precursors, 2-methylisoborneol, geosmine, 1-octen-3-one, and methoxypyrazines (IPMP and MDMP).

Contamination from trace levels of TCA is mainly responsible for cork taint and causes massive economic losses for the wine industry each year.  Currently, the determination of TCA and other off flavors in cork wine stoppers is carried out by means of HS-SPME-GCMS analysis of a hydroalcoholic soaking solution (ISO20752). Due to time consuming sample preparation, long analysis times, and sample destruction/modification, this method is unsuitable for industrial screenings, and it is limited to laboratory analyses.

The Vocus Cork Analyzer (VCA) offers a solution to this problem. Using a cutting-edge time-of-flight mass spectrometer, it can simultaneously quantify TCA and other off flavors in cork wine stoppers below the perception threshold in 2 seconds without destruction of the stopper.  The mass spectrometer detects off flavors in real time at the molecular level, and the analyzer then sorts the cork stoppers, accordingly, allowing for highly accurate, automated, continuous measurements on an unprecedented scale. The revolutionary, Swiss engineered VCA offers a state-of-the-art solution for cork stopper analysis at the industrial level for a powerful combination of scientific accuracy and quality control peace of mind.



  • Non-Destructive and Simultaneous Real-Time Quantification of Off-Flavors in Cork Using the Vocus Cork Analyzer 

    • Three simple steps for TCA and off-flavor analysis in single cork stoppers: 1. Load. 2. Analysis. 3. Sort.
    • Ultra-low detection limits in only 2 seconds.
    • Accurate TCA and off-flavors identification with high resolution mass spectrometry without false negatives/positives.
    • Sort single cork stoppers in up to 4 operator-defined TCA concentration ranges.

    Vocus Cork Analyzer Solution Page


    Measured TCA concentrations for a set of 300 stoppers (2 second/cork; 10 minutes total; logarithmic plot). A sensory panel identified stoppers shown in red as being contaminated with TCA and determined those in blue to be clean. The Vocus measurements identify the same contaminated corks as the sensory panel, and further identify many other stoppers with concentrations close to 0.5 ng/L.

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