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  5. Detecting TCA in Corks and Wine

Wines can make or break your customers. The best flavor in a wine comes out through a perfect balance of its various aromas. But many factors set back the flavor of wine. One such reason is cork taint. It is a kind of wine fault that consists of undesirable smells or tastes in a bottle of wine and only gets detected after bottling, aging, and opening, irrespective of the price and quality level. The presence of 2,4,6 TCA in wine is the chief cause of cork taint, which in many cases gets transferred from the cork itself. TCA is an acronym for 2,4,6-trichloroanisole and does not occur naturally. The precursors to TCA arise in the wood of the cork tree and TCA forms when these hydrocarbons combine with chlorine, which is used to bleach corks before use. It is a fungal metabolite of 2,4,6-trichlorophenol and has a characteristic odor, mostly resembling the smell of a wet dog, moldy newspaper, damp basement, or damp cloth. This compound is one of the major factors responsible for the problem associated with mold found in cork. A small amount of this compound is enough to contaminate barrels of wine.

Therefore, it becomes imperative to detect TCA.. But detecting the presence of TCA in wine or cork is a complicated task as it is present in wine with various other compounds with part per million concentration levels. Consequently, requirement of an efficient medium to detect TCA is vital.  Electronic Sensor Technology fulfills this need with their advanced electronic nose, called zNose® that detects 2,4,6 TCA instantly in wine aroma and corks just like humans do.  Also, it is the first electronic nose to attain better or same sensitivity to 2,4,6 TCA like wine experts. As hydrocarbons dominate the entire wine process, there are hundreds of other hydrocarbons in wine and wine production, which can either enhance or destroy the quality of wine.  zNose® technology is capable of analyzing and quantifying hydrocarbons in wine with molecular weights between 50-300 approximately.

zNose® is a small and portable handheld instrument that uses ultra-fast gas chromatography and sensor acoustic wave (SAW) detectors. In order to check the efficiency and effectiveness of zNose®, a small experiment was performed. A series of 10 neutral wine solutions identified by an expert panel obtaining TCA were used. The aroma of each sample was tested to see if zNose® can detect TCA in the wine aroma. This advanced electronic nose easily detected and quantified even the slightest amount of TCA in each wine’s aroma.

Also, not all TCA contamination comes from corks. It could also occur from persistent microbiological activity within the winery itself. PCP-treated wood used in the construction of wine cellars and shipping containers could also easily contaminate the atmosphere, barrels, wines, tanks, corks, and everything else within the cellar.

Applied as an ambient air monitor, the portable zNose® efficiently detects TCA contamination and all other tainting vapors at sub-ppt levels, with speed, accuracy, and precision. This electronic nose is an effective tool for inspecting and quantifying cleanliness in bottles and other containers used for the production and storage of wines. It can monitor the concentration of fragrances supportive to the overall good taste and bouquet of wines. It is efficient, cost-effective and can also measure more than 320 samples in a single day. zNose is a one-stop solution that will help you keep a quality check on the wines that you produce, mitigate rejection, and gain customer satisfaction.


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