Cork Off-Flavor Analysis

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

Background

Cork Off-Flavor Analysis

Cork is a complex natural material obtained from the outer bark of cork oaks (Quercus Suber). Due to its chemical inertness, elasticity, and impermeability to liquids and gases, cork stoppers are the main closure system for wine aging in bottles.

Cork contains a plethora of volatile compounds (VOCs) that can affect the flavor of wine. Vanillin and derivatives, volatile phenols, aldehydes, alcohols, terpenes, lactones, fatty acids, and furans are closely related to certain pleasant aromatic descriptors.  Other VOCs, the so-called off-flavors, are linked to negative aromatic characters: chloroanisoles and their phenolic precursors, 2-methylisoborneol, geosmine, 1-octen-3-onemethoxypyrazines (IPMP and MDMP). 

Contamination from trace levels of 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (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 wine corks is carried out by means of HS-SPME-GCMS analysis of a hydroalcoholic soaking solution (ISO20752). Due to long sample preparation and analysis time and sample destruction/modification, this method is unsuitable for industrial screenings and it is limited to solely laboratory analyses. 

The Vocus Cork Analyzer simultaneously quantifies TCA and other off-flavors in cork wine stoppers below the perception threshold in 3 seconds without destruction of the stopper.  This technology is a revolutionary industrial solution for the continuous screening of large batches of cork stoppers before bottling. 

Solutions

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

    Measured TCA concentrations for a set of 100 stoppers (3 second/cork; 5 minutes total; logarithmic plot). A sensory panel identified stoppers shown in red as being contaminated with TCA and determined those in green 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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