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Wine-trashing microbe identified

Science scores another victory in the war against taint

By
6:31pm, November 19, 2010

Scientists have unmasked a culprit responsible for contaminating untold bottles of wine with the musty, corky odor generally known as taint.

More than 20 years after the isolation of MDMP, a compound that can turn even the finest wine into plonk, the identity of a microbe that churns out the stuff is now in hand, researchers report online November 8 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The next step is figuring out where the critter thrives and when in the journey from vine to bottle contamination is most likely.

“This is a valuable step,” says flavor chemist Mark Sefton of the University of Adelaide in Australia. “Once you have identified and characterized it, you can look for it in the environment, understand its metabolism and understand under what conditions does this bug grow and get into our food. The more you know the easier it is to control.”

Recent advances in understanding the sources of TCA, another m
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