Cork tainted wines have a dank odor that smells almost exactly like wet newspaper, moldy cardboard, or wet dog. These off-flavors dominate the corked wine, and there’s minimal fruit aromas or even no aroma at all. The industry calls this aroma TCA and the scientific community: 2, 4, 6, trichloroanisole.
But what is TCA?
TCA is a chemical compound commonly found in nature and can be found in wood, wine, water, soil, fruits and vegetables and also in cork.
TCA is external to the wine product, the wood and cork stopper, but if it is present in the atmosphere and comes into contact with the barrels, corks, or even wine, it may easily absorbed.
TCA may form directly in some of these products, if they are contaminated with chlorophenols, which are the principal precursors of TCA.
For the formation of chlorophenols, a substance which contains phenol has to come into contact with a source of chlorine. If, for example, a cork stopper is washed with chlorine, the possible appearance of chlorophenols is potentialized.
The cork industry banned this practice in the cork stopper washing process more than 15 years ago. The International Code of Cork Stopper Manufacturing Practices specifically prohibits the use of chlorine and also any means containing this compound at any stage of stopper fabrication.
To avoid the formation of TCA, one of the practices that must be followed is to avoid the use of cleaning products that contain chlorine, when cleaning the cellars.
The perception of TCA is different according to the smell and taste of each consumer, the wine, the occasion on which the wine is consumed, among other factors.
If you've ever had a wine and only later realized that it has a cork aroma, don't worry because TCA doesn't cause any problem to human health. If a wine has low levels of TCA may not even detect it. You might think the wine was boring, because will have no fruity and floral aromas or simply no aroma at all.
This contamination can occur in any wine. If it happens at a restaurant, just call the sommelier and he will switch it. If you bought it in a Winery Shop, cork it, and take the contaminated bottle for replacement.
Corticeira Amorim, the world's largest cork products company, has achieved a major technological breakthrough to become the world’s first cork producer to deliver natural cork stoppers with a non-detectable TCA guarantee, using cutting-edge technology that has not only been successfully trialed, but which is also being independently validated on performance announced.