The presence of the molecule responsible for cork taint can now be clearly identified, thanks to a recently developed sensor that can detect even the slightest traces of the most common wine fault. Further applications could include the identification of pesticides or even explosives according to NCCR Bio-Inspired Materials researchers at the University of Fribourg.
When a wine is “corked” it is usually the cork which releases the relevant molecules. These often come from fungicides the cork oak tree has been treated with. With the aid of a spongelike, porous supramolecular grid these ‘corked’ molecules can be “caught”. As soon as such a substance is present and has infiltrated the sensor’s pores, an optical marker becomes visible, in that the sensor ceases to fluoresce (gleam) and so indicates that the quality of the wine has been affected.