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Another cause of corked wine unmasked

Scientists in France have unmasked a culprit responsible for contaminating untold bottles of wine with the musty, corky odour generally known as cork taint. More than 20 years after the isolation of MDMP, a compound that can turn even the finest wine into plonk, the identity of a microbe that churns out the stuff is now in hand. The next step is figuring out WHERE the bug thrives and WHEN in the journey from vine to bottle contamination is most likely.

This discovery follows recent advances in understanding the sources of TCA, another molecule that can foul even the finest wine with a similar corked flavour. The bug could be getting into wine via oak chips, which many wine-makers who don't use oak barrels use to impart tannins and flavour. Producers who employ oak chips should be sure to toast their chips: 10 minutes of toasting at 220° Celsius eliminated 93 percent of MDMP, the research team found. The team also found that about 40 percent of untreated, natural corks sampled had detectable levels of MDMP.