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J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Feb 27;50(5):1032-9.

Method for the gas chromatographic assay with mass selective detection of trichloro compounds in corks and wines applied to elucidate the potential cause of cork taint.

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  • 1Quality Assurance Department, Liquor Control Board of Ontario, 55 Lakeshore Boulevard East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5E 1A4.


To investigate the role of trichloro compounds as a potential cause of "cork taint" in wine, an assay for trichloroanisole (TCA) and trichlorophenol (TCP) in corks and wine was developed utilizing solid phase extraction on a C(18) cartridge followed by gas chromatography with mass selective detection. Recovery and imprecision for TCA were 86-102 and 1.6-5.8%, respectively, and for TCP 82-103% and 1.7-3.9%, respectively. Limits of detection and quantitation were 0.1 and 2 ng/L, respectively, for TCA, and 0.7 and 4 ng/L, respectively for TCP. A survey of 2400 commercial wines revealed a higher incidence of cork taint in white wine than in red and in wines utilizing composite cork closures; wines from central Europe and Spain had higher overall rates of contamination and those from Canada and Italy the lowest. Significant but modest associations were found between the TCA and TCP contents of the wines and corks, but many wines exhibiting cork taint had low or undetectable concentrations of TCA. Over a 12-month period, experimentally bottled wines exhibited a slow increase in TCA and TCP content while cork closures manifested a decrease; most bottles showing cork taint contained low levels of TCA, and TCP concentrations were well below the sensory threshold. Neither compound was cytotoxic to human cell lines in culture up to final concentrations of 500 ng/mL. It was concluded that these two trichloro compounds are, at most, minor components of cork taint in commercial wines.

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