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Your email address will not be published.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 *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Administrative Assistant

Swig Wines Ltd
Chiswick, London, UK

HR Manager

Amathus Drinks PLC
London, UK

Beer Development Specialist

Matthew Clark
London, UK

Senior Sales Manager

Haynes Hanson & Clark
Gloucestershire, GB

Customer Services Administrator

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Group
London, UK

Inventory Analyst

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

Events Executive - Atom Supplies

ATOM Supplies Limited
London, UK

Off-Trade Sales Account Executive

Domaine Direct
Nationwide, working from a combination of home & London office.

Sales Executive/Brand Ambassador

Glenfarclas
Ballindalloch, Speyside, UK

Client Manager

Noble Rot
Wandsworth, London, GB

Spirits Investment Director

Stilnovisti
London, UK

Junior Brand Manager

Enotria Winecellars
Park Royal, London, UK

Content & Digital Assistant

ABVGlobal
London, UK

Sales Manager

Cellar Trends
London, UK

Champagne Masters 2017

Deadline : 7th July 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Syrah Masters 2017

Deadline : 18th July 2017

Click to view more

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.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Fortified Masters 2016

Now in its third year, The Fortified Masters will reward the best fortified wines on offer.

Click to view more