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Cork brings beneficial phenolics to wine

Phenolic compounds that are naturally present in cork stoppers can positively influence the ageing of wine, according to Dr. Miguel Cabral, Amorim’s director of R&D.

cork stoppers
Phenolic compounds in wine can positively influence the ageing of wine, according to Amorim’s R&D director

In a discussion yesterday with the drinks business about innovation in the cork industry, Cabral said that his research was currently focused on the migration of phenolics and volatiles from the structure of natural corks into a wine as it ages in bottle, and suggested that such compounds benefit the maturation of wine.

“For the future we are looking and how and why cork positively influences the evolution of wine,” he said.

Noting that many producers opt for high quality natural corks when it comes to most of their long-lived wines, he said that the market believes that cork has a positive contribution to the evolution of wine – and his job is to consider the reasons for that contribution.

For example, pointing out that Dom Pérignon chooses to use cork, rather than crown cap for its Champagnes which are destined for extended cellaring in the brand’s Oenoteque, he said that he believed that the phenolics and volatiles in natural cork “have a major role”, adding, “we are deeply studying the effect of phenolics and volatiles in collaboration with universities”.

Amorim Dr. Miguel Cabral
Dr. Miguel Cabral, Amorim’s director of research and development

He also said that the cork will release phenolic compounds in a “linear way”, while recording that the reaction of the wine with the wood-sourced phenolics forms “new compounds”.

Concluding, he said that Amorim was attempting to put the science behind the belief that wine matures “differently and better under cork”.

He also warned, “The wine itself is a chemical compound, so the maturation of the wine is not just influenced by the compounds in the cork, but the compounds from the cork do play a role.”

Cabral has already published two academic papers on the topic of cork phenolics and their migration into wine, and is waiting on peer review before the results of his research can go into a scientific journal, which he expects to receive within three months.

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