Amorim, a Portugal-based cork manufacturer, has partnered with a UK firm to develop an industrial-scale prototype that will allow the company to test individual corks for the trichloroanisole (TCA) compounds responsible for corked wine.

The company currently uses a gas chromatography system that takes 14 minutes to test a single cork sample.

This way, the company’s 15 machines test around 16,000 samples in each month, reported the drinks business.

However, the new prototype will analyse a cork in 20 seconds, allowing the company to test around 1.5 million corks every year of its total production of 3.6 billion corks each year.

The new machine, though, has some limitations as it can detect 100% of corks with TCA levels of five nanograms per litre, but can detect only 88% of corks with TCA levels of 5-2 nanograms per litre.

Amorim oenologist Paulo Lopes was quoted by the website as saying that the technology will initially be used for the company’s high quality corks, but they are working to reach 100% on the other range too.

The company is working right from choosing the forests to select their cork for stoppers to performing laboratory tests like gas chromatography analysis to improve control of TCA levels in its corks.

Amorim chairman Antonio Amorim said the biggest challenge is to give consistency to cork.

"People have to accept there is the same problem with other closures," Amorim added.

The company also warned against manufacturers claiming to offer a uniform closure solution.

Amorim said different wines will take different corks, and probably even different closures.