Corked wine suppresses sense of smell

17th September, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

The presence of cork taint in wine shuts off signals from our noses to our brains, preventing the ability to detect other odours, Japanese scientists have found.

Corked-Wine1

As reported by the BBC, researchers at Osaka University have discovered that the suppression of our sense of smell by the chemical 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) leads drinkers to imaging “pseudo-olfactory sensations” such as the damp cloth and wet dog aromas traditionally associated with corked wine.

“It has long been thought that TCA causes excitation of sensory cells to induce unpleasant sensation,” professor Hiroko Takeuchi from the university’s Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences told the BBC.

“However, our findings show that TCA suppresses activity of sensory cells, we also speculate that this suppression may cause a musty smell that is a typical feature of corked wine,” he added.

The team was investigating how TCA functions by analysing how both newts and people responded to the chemical, publishing the report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The study monitored the activity in the cells of newts exposed to TCA and found that rather than sparking odour perception, cork taint suppressed it.

A separate study measured how 20 participants reacted to the presence of cork taint in samples of wine, and found that aroma perception was reduced when TCA was present.

TCA suppresses the nose’s primary smelling receptor, which converts smells to electrical signals sent to the brain.

The study, which has implications beyond wine, found the brain interprets this reaction as an unpleasant odour.

“Our research shows that the reduction of quality found in foods and drinks is in part due to the generation of a suppressor, rather than the reduction of original flavour,” Takeuchi told the BBC.

The team wants to use the findings to develop ways to deliberately weaken the nose’s sense of smell in order to mask bad odours in certain products.

One Response to “Corked wine suppresses sense of smell”

  1. Kurt Burris says:

    Purely anecdotaly I had noticed that wines I suspected of being corked, but couldn’t really tell, tended to have a “muted” nose. The problem is I could only use this information in wines I knew well enough to remember past bottles. I guess that is one more reason to buy wine by the case…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Account Manager

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Marylebone Sales Manager

Philglas & Swiggot
Marylebone, London, UK

Area Sales Manager

Bon Coeur Fine Wines
North England, UK

Procurement Assistant – Wine

Adnams PLC
Southwold, UK

Account Manager Central London

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Brand Ambassador

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Marketing Assistant

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire, UK

Marketing Manager

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Regional Sales Manager – Scotland

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager – London On-Trade

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Customer Service & Sales Support Executive

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Market Insight Analyst

Conviviality PLC
London, UK

Technical Manager

Enotria&Coe
Park Royal, London, GB

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

Click to view more

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Click to view more