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Origin and incidence of 2-methoxy-3,5-dimethylpyrazine, a compound with a "fungal" and "corky" aroma found in cork stoppers and oak chips in contact with wines.

Journal of agricultural and food chemistry (2010-11-10)
Pascal Chatonnet, Antoine Fleury, Stéphane Boutou
ABSTRACT

This study identifies a previously isolated bacterium as Rhizobium excellensis, a new species of proteobacteria able to form a large quantity of 2-methoxy-3,5-dimethylpyrazine (MDMP). R. excellensis actively synthesizes MDMP from L-alanine and L-leucine and, to a lesser extent, from L-phenylalanine and L-valine. MDMP is a volatile, strong-smelling substance detected in wines with cork stoppers that have an unpleasant "corky", "herbaceous" (potato, green hazelnut), or "dusty" odor that is very different from the typical "fungal" nose of a "corked" wine that is generally due to 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). The contamination of cork by MDMP is not correlated with the presence of TCA. It appears possible that R. excellensis is the microorganism mainly responsible for the presence of this molecule in cork bark. However, other observations suggest that MDMP might taint wine through other ways. Oak wood can also be contaminated and affect wines with which it comes into contact. Nevertheless, because 93% of the MDMP content in wood is destroyed after 10 min at 220 °C, sufficiently toasted oak barrels or alternatives probably do not represent a major source of MDMP in most of the cases. Due to MDMP's relatively low detection threshold estimated at 2.1 ng/L, its presence in about 40% of the untreated natural cork stoppers sampled at concentrations above 10 ng/cork suggests that this compound, if extracted from the stoppers, may pose a risk for wine producers.

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Sigma-Aldrich
Yeast Extract, for use in microbial growth medium