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Wine Science

Molecule In Corked Wine Plugs Up Your Nose 134

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the apply-clothespin-to-nose dept.
sciencehabit writes "Ever send a bottle of wine back at a restaurant? If you weren't just being a pretentious snob, then it was probably because the wine seemed 'corked' — had a musty odor and didn't taste quite right. Most likely, the wine was contaminated with a molecule called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), the main cause of cork taint. But a new study by Japanese researchers concludes that you do not smell TCA directly; rather, TCA blocks up your sense of smell and distorts your ability to detect odors. The findings could help the food and beverage industry improve its products and lead to less embarrassment for both you and your waiter."
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Molecule In Corked Wine Plugs Up Your Nose

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  • So stop using corks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geek (5680) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:17PM (#44868849) Homepage

    Seriously, other than nostalgia why are they still using corks when much better methods have existed for decades?

    • by binarylarry (1338699) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:22PM (#44868881)

      "Greetings sir, I've selected the finest cans of wine for your dining experience tonight. Would you like some pork rhines to help wash that merlot down?"

      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:33PM (#44868953)

        Cans, pssh. What's wrong with boxes?

        • by slick7 (1703596)

          Cans, pssh. What's wrong with boxes?

          What's wrong with bags and those pokey straw thingies?

          • by sa1lnr (669048)

            Isn't the wine in a bag that is inside the box?

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              Isn't the wine in a bag that is inside the box?

              Yeah, but those have spigots ... totally different. ;-)

              • by slick7 (1703596)

                Isn't the wine in a bag that is inside the box?

                Yeah, but those have spigots ... totally different. ;-)

                Who are you calling a spigot? Even though I, like many, have our prejudices, I like to believe that I am as progressise as the next person!

        • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:55PM (#44869069) Homepage
          In fact, a box is one of the best ways to store and distribute wine.
          • Boxes are easy to transport and may be subject to different taxation. The downsides are quite bad: higher sulphur content, looks tacky and no flow of air to soften tannins once opened.

            • carafe (Score:4, Informative)

              by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @04:48AM (#44870933) Homepage

              If you want to oxygenate the box wine before serving, just pour it into a carafe a little ahead of time. The wine remaining in the box stays as it is but the wine in the carafe gets the oxygen needed to take care of some of the tannins. Seriously, even with wine in a bottle, using a carafe is a good way to deal with tannins.

              A nice carafe can also help show off the wine itself.

            • by pjt33 (739471)

              There's essentially no flow of air through a bottle neck either except when you're pouring.

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              look man, you're not going wait until it airs anyways. and you're going to do it for the whole bottle.

              want a fast good way to do it? pour it into a blender and hit it. no need to air the whole bag.

              natural cork corks are just a gimmick in this day and age.

              • natural cork corks are just a gimmick in this day and age.

                They're biodegradable. Except for the plastic corks (ugh!). But I agree. Screw tops are quite adequate, if less showy.

          • by demon driver (1046738) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @04:59AM (#44870997) Journal

            In fact, a box is one of the best ways to store and distribute wine.

            True! I, too, buy most of my wine in boxes. Usually containing six bottles each. Very convenient!

          • by Meeni (1815694)

            Except if you intend to age it. It doesn't age at all in a box/pouch, and it ages only marginally with plastic corks.

              Therefore, for aging wine, one needs a proper bottle with a proper cap (either cork, or specially engineered plastic "cork" as is becoming common in Bordeaux these days).

            • by OneAhead (1495535)

              A large percentage of the wines sold with a natural cork are not suitable for aging anyway, and a large percentage of their buyers won't even try to age them (if they even have a suitable cellar / cooler). Couldn't we just agree to only put natural corks on the more fancy wines that are meant to be aged and that are likely to fall into the hands of people who actually know what to do with them? And while we're at it, the few wines that are worthy of a natural cork could do with better corks (more carefully

        • Nope, it is recyclable box containing a non-recyclable plastic bag which in turn contains the nectar of life.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ahh, never seen a screw-on bottle cap before?

      • "some pork rhines to help wash that merlot down?"

        Did you mean Riesling?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Dude, you jest, but I think grape juice companies could make a killing in the low-income market by marketing identical-looking (from a distance) grape juice and wine containers.

        p.s. Now I'm tempted to go buy some boxed wine and pour it into used grape juice cans/bottles so I can drink it in public.

      • by pouar (2629833)
        I prefer the can anyway.
    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:26PM (#44868907)

      Very true. Stelvin closures, Plastic corks, glass stoppers, all superior. The really amazing part if all the labour that goes into each real cork. Cut, cleaned, bleached, sorted, the re-sorted, much of it by hand. It's actually amazing that they're so cheap. It really sucks when a bad $0.30 cork ruins a 60$ bottle of wine.

      • by horm (2802801) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:11PM (#44869155)
        All that work creates jobs. Do you want to destroy American jobs?
      • by blueg3 (192743) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:24PM (#44869233)

        Plastic corks, glass stoppers

        No, no. Those things suck. Plastic corks are like regular corks, except they don't get moldy and they're a royal pain to get out of the bottle. Glass stoppers are easy to get out unless you break a bottle opener on it by accident. They're also vaguely resealable.

        There are two modern methods that are amazing for wine. Screw caps are stupid easy to use, cheap, and resealable. Modern, pioneering winemakers that don't worry about what people think about the presentation use screw caps. (They also often make great wine at affordable prices.) The other method is the box (or rather, a bag inside a box). A box looks completely classless, but it's one of the best ways of storing wine because pouring wine doesn't expose any of the remaining wine to oxidation. This means you can make a (disturbingly compact) 3L box of wine and use it over the course of a week. Or two days. Or a month. The wine stays good. Mercifully, some people -- not all Australian -- are making good wine in boxes now.

        • by arth1 (260657) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:44PM (#44869359) Homepage Journal

          But sometimes you want the oxidation. A couple of my favourite wines need decanting before the flavour is right.

          • by aXis100 (690904) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:54PM (#44869443)

            You can still decant the amount you'll be drinking that night (e.g. usign a fast breather) and leave the rest in the box for another day.

            Seriously, was that so hard to figure out?

            • by Anonymous Coward

              So the solution to stop it looking cheap is to always use a decanter. Problem solved! Unless your guests catch you in the kitchen in the act.

          • by blueg3 (192743)

            I'm not sure that effect is oxidation, but otherwise, yes. The good way to do that is with a decanter, though, rather than just opening the bottle. The bottle's small neck limits airflow. If you're going to expose it to air, might as well do it fast.

          • by tinkerton (199273)

            I've drunk my share of old wines and you want the oxidation especially when you're drinking a wine too early. But when a wine has aged and is peaking(ymmv actually), decanting easily ruins it. Then it is often enough to decant just to separate the wine from the dirt and to get the odd volatile odor out, and drink.
            I'd even go further and say the same about many cheaper young reds: don't let it oxidise, it detracts from the taste,

        • by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:52PM (#44869427) Journal

          Bag in a box wine review: The polyvinylchloride adds a particularly delightful emphasis to the cardboard while the shades of petroleum
          byproducts are a welcome ablative to the virus stunted grapes musty
          grandeur.
          --mrmeval 2007

      • It's no coincidence that it's called "cork taint". All that trichloroanusol makes the wine taste like shit.
        • Seriously? Modded "redundant"? I don't see where anybody else here has made a double pun out of this.

          Sigh. I'm SOooooo misunderstood. :)
      • by sribe (304414)

        Very true. Stelvin closures, Plastic corks, glass stoppers, all superior.

        For the short term. Not for any wine that is expected to be held for a decade or more. In other words: only superior for at least 95% of all wine sold, but not for everything.

        • Who made up that myth with that old wine.... only the smallest fraction of wine (red, VERY tanin rich) has a chance to survive "decades" without spoiling at all.

          • by jschrod (172610)
            The 89 rieslings in my cellar that still taste fresh, and are just now starting to have a bit of oxidation, beg to differ. E.g., Kastelberg from Kreidenweis. Some burgundies from Rebholz, too.

            My 81 Chateau d'Yquems is still considered young.

            You don't need lots of tanin to have well aging wines.

            • by tinkerton (199273)

              Some burgundies from Rebholz, too.

              Really ? How well do they cellar? 20 years seems a bit long. Most pinot noir just doesn't age well.
              I've got some Kreydenweiss too but it's a bit overpriced. Wiebelsberg was in there. Many good dry Rieslings will keep 20 years I think.

              • by jschrod (172610)
                > > Some burgundies from Rebholz, too.

                > Really ? How well do they cellar? 20 years seems a bit long. Most pinot noir just doesn't age well.

                Actually, I meant his white burgundy grand cru (Im Sonnenschein). Some years wines from him age extremely well; last year I was at one anniversary tasting where he opened bottles from the last 25 years, and there were astonishing wines among them. 15 year old Sekt, still fresh; I couldn't believe it.

                His pinot noir age quite well as well; in some years it m

                • by tinkerton (199273)

                  I was in Alsace a few years ago and stocked up mainly on cru Rieslings then. Andlau Barr I mainly knew from Klevener(savagnin rose, not klevner pinot blanc) but I had read that Kreydenweiss was good so I bought two cartons.

                  Of course, one has to be careful and check when they are about to oxidate -- and then it's a matter of taste if you let them a bit, or if you rather drink them... :-) I remember some 82 Bordeaux where I had bad luck and noticed it too late. :-(

                  Well, I like them fully ripened but not bey

          • by sribe (304414)

            Who made up that myth with that old wine.... only the smallest fraction of wine (red, VERY tanin rich) has a chance to survive "decades" without spoiling at all.

            THAT is a myth ;-)

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        That's true - there is fine art to cork soaking.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuj1aKxET8Y [youtube.com]

    • by Konster (252488)

      Only corks make that cool popping sound when you pull them out, and this is why they are still used.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The other closures are not proven to age wine as effectively or with the same aging results. For people that buy wine to cellar and age, cork is the only true time proven closure. Granted you have to count on 5, sometimes 10% loss due to taint.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      From the Muppet Movie:

      "Would you like to sniff the bottlecap?"

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday September 16, 2013 @09:52PM (#44869051) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, other than nostalgia why are they still using corks when much better methods have existed for decades?

      There's almost nothing rational in the entire wine economy.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        There's almost nothing rational in the entire wine economy.

        Actually that is your perfectly rational explanation right there. Wine is a pretty good investment and obviously the people invested in it don't want that to change, so they create artificial ways of preserving its value.

    • The problem has to due with a chemical contaminating the wine... it has nothing to do with the cork. That's just the common term people use to describe the problem. There are plenty of wines that use rubber stoppers or twist offs. You're welcome to buy them. It seems however, that when buying a $40 beverage people tend to expect artistic packaging.

      • by russotto (537200)

        The problem has to due with a chemical contaminating the wine... it has nothing to do with the cork.

        Except that the main (but not only) source of the chemical is the cork.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        It seems however, that when buying a $40 beverage people tend to expect artistic packaging.

        Basically, the vast majority of people then who think they're buying a premium product when it's really just a middle of the line thing.

        Because the really good wines (more than $40/bottle) have found alternative sealing devices like plastic screwcaps and (gasp) boxes which keep a lot better (holding the value), require less maintenance (oh yeah, you have to maintain it! Or you leave the chance it turns to vinegar) and

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      Seriously, other than nostalgia why are they still using corks when much better methods have existed for decades?

      Amen. I haven't drunk wine from a corked bottle in a decade. It's twist-off or nothing for this connoisseur.

      Say, could you spare two dollars so I can get a little taste... uh, I mean, "something to eat"?

    • by breeze95 (880714)

      Seriously, other than nostalgia why are they still using corks when much better methods have existed for decades?

      Do you know why the older wine gets the more expensive it is? Aging. As wine ages the taste becomes refined, and the aging process depends on oxidation. Corks are permeable which allows the oxidation process (aging) to continue. Using materials other that cork stops the oxidation process making the wine less desirable and reduces the price of the wine.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Corks are permeable which allows the oxidation process (aging) to continue. Using materials other that cork stops the oxidation process making the wine less desirable and reduces the price of the wine.

        No, not really. Oenology research mostly says the oxygen that gets into the wine from the bottling is plenty enough to age for years, and extra oxygen is MUCH more likely to spoil the wine than improve it.

        There may be a very VERY slight percentage of wine aged for a very long time that might improve with a perfect cork letting in just enough oxygen to keep the aging going without spoiling it, but for the VAST majority of wine current research says it's (and by "it's" that's the the Bordeauxs, cabs, etc) pr

        • by mvdwege (243851)

          There is also that aging is for snobs; it was mostly invented by the British upper classes, and the Americans took it over without thinking.

          Most wines are meant to be drunk fairly young. Any amount of aging necessary to bring out the taste will happen, as you correctly point out, with the oxygen available during bottling.

          It is precisely this reason why the younger French vintners are not afraid of synthetic corks and bottle caps. The French are notorious oenopaedophiles.

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            There is also that aging is for snobs; it was mostly invented by the British upper classes, and the Americans took it over without thinking.

            Most wines are meant to be drunk fairly young. Any amount of aging necessary to bring out the taste will happen, as you correctly point out, with the oxygen available during bottling.

            Not sure which Americans you are talking about (maybe American billionaires?) but for the garden variety wine snob (who believe yes, Two Buck Chuck is not close to a decent Napa/Sonoma wine - but it's honestly better than some 5x the price) I don't think there is a particular trend towards heavily aging wines. I've never been able to keep one more than a few years because I'm too eager to try it ;)

            Though I have on occasion had some wines of 15-20+ years that were let age. Some of the best I have ever had

            • by mvdwege (243851)

              I was referring to Robert Parker and his fanbois, who seem to only select on suitability for aging.

      • Seriously, other than nostalgia why are they still using corks when much better methods have existed for decades?

        Do you know why the older wine gets the more expensive it is? Aging.

        No. Older wine is so expensive because after 20 years, you need to throw away half of your stock cause it turned into vinegar or some cork tainted liquid waste. You need to pay for that, too, when buying one of the bottles that are still in drinking shape.

        Granted, there are several wines that need a few years to mature, but that's only a small fraction and it is nowhere near several decades..

  • by Anonymous Coward
    /eom
  • surely it's the sommelier who will be embarrassed, not the waiter...
  • 5th grade recess, and SHE will tell ya...
  • that giggled at the phrase "cork taint"? Please don't tell me I'm the only one.
  • If they are finding things that block smell, can I spray some of my coworkers with it?
  • When we first met she was charging $300/night. But after her taint got corked a few hundred times it didn't seem quite as appealing anymore so she was forced to reduce her rate down to $75/night. I'll forward her a link to this article so she'll know the experience wasn't unique to her. I never got involved with her romantically but she helped me resolve my dyslexia.
  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:58PM (#44869817) Homepage Journal

    Unintentionally funny.

  • by mbone (558574)

    When I send back wine, it's because it's turned to vinegar.

  • Sending back a corked bottle shouldn't embarrass anyone. It's fairly rare but does happen from time to time. The restaurant shouldn't even think twice about it.

  • The last paragraph gave me the following thought.
    Given how much the food industry is "concerned" with providing us with the best quality,
    is it potentially possible that they can use this molecule to block our ability to sense some bad stuff that is in their products?
    • by RDW (41497)

      Given how much the food industry is "concerned" with providing us with the best quality, is it potentially possible that they can use this molecule to block our ability to sense some bad stuff that is in their products?

      You know the foil capsule that covers the cork on more expensive bottles? Take half a dozen of those and you can make a useful protective hat!

  • Isn't this the wine project [winehq.org] icon?
  • I do not understand all this fuss about aroma and taste and TCA (trichloroacetic acid?). After all people are drinking rotten fruit juice!

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