A polymer-based product that removes the corked taste from wine goes on sale on 1 June 2005.

A polymer-based product that removes the corked taste from wine goes on sale on 1 June 2005. The product restores wine by selectively absorbing the compound responsible for the corked taste, say French researchers. 

The molecule responsible for the characteristic mouldy taste is 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). The new product, called Dream Taste, takes between 15 minutes and two hours to remove the TCA and bring back the original taste to a bottle of wine. It is estimated that five to eight per cent of all wines are corked.

The product was developed at the small start-up company Vect’Oeur, Savigny-l?s-Beaune. G?rard Michel and Laurent Vuillaume, wine specialists and co-founders of Vect’Oeur, have several decades of experience with wine and corks. Removing undesirable compounds from wine is possible at the industrial level, but such treatments are often slow and so the researchers focused on solutions for individual consumers.

The solution is a porous co-polymer that extracts TCA using electrostatic interactions. The process could not be a chemical one as the wine must remain unaffected. ’We looked for a performance material that would be capable of removing the molecule from the wine. To collect the molecules and physically remove them,’ said Michel.

Dream Taste kits are covered by two patents. The kits consist of a glass decanter and several small balls - moulded to look like a bunch of grapes - which contain the co-polymer. The researchers, who were not prepared to give details of the materials, say that the polymers are already used in the food and drink industry. It is simply the design and how they are used that is important, says Vuillaume.

There appear to be no major disadvantages with the system except that treated wine needs to be consumed promptly because, once open to the atmosphere, wine will oxidise. 

Michel and Vuillaume are now looking for ways to remove other undesirable characteristics, such as the corked taste from barrels, or sulfurous tastes from the sulfur dioxide added to increase a product’s shelf life. Synthetic corks also release similar brominated compounds into wine. 

Dream Taste will be available in France from 1 June 2005. Kits are available direct from the company Tasting International. ’The methods are very specific so that the bad tastes are removed but not those that are beneficial or important for the wine’ said Vuillaume. 

Vikki Allen