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zNose: the corked wine detector

Published:  23 July, 2008

By James Aufenast

A new detector of corked wines, which could save the industry millions of pounds, is about to enter the UK. "zNose" was originally developed to identify illegal drugs and explosives in the USA. Ken Ziger, operations director of the product's developer, Electronic Sensor, told Harpers: "Everyone has been sending us samples. The whole Californian industry is interested, including a large Napa Valley winery. Italy and Portugal want to know about zNose too." Sutter Home is among a host of Californian wineries currently testing the machine. Ziger said that the zNose would shortly be imported into the UK by Unilever, subject to EU approval. Electronic Sensor claims that the machine can detect TCA, the compound responsible for cork taint, at concentrations of 65 parts per trillion. The company adds that in a recent test at its laboratory in California, local wine experts identified two out of six samples as being corked, whereas the wine detector picked out all six faulty samples. The detector can be used to identify a range of smells found in food and drinks, hence Unilever's steps to have it imported.