Sabaté, the French cork manufacturer, has produced 100,000 corks which are guaranteed to have half the amount of the taint-causing compound, TCA, than its current cork products.
The retailers will add an extra digit to the end of the barcode of bottles closed with the seal to monitor how many bottles are returned by consumers.
Howard Winn, quality manager at Sainsbury, which has agreed to sell 36,000 bottles of wine with the closure, said: “We are using a cork with a much lower releaseable TCA level to see how it stands up in the trade and see if it reduces customer return levels.”
He added that Sainsbury had chosen an own-label Old World red wine for the trial and that it intends to set some bottles aside to test how the wine matures.
Tesco’s product development manager, Lindsay Talas, said: “We are pleased with the work Sabaté has been doing and anything that goes towards improving customer enjoyment of a bottle of wine, we will work with.”
Sabaté has also pledged to launch a cork which it guarantees will be completely TCA free. The company is in the process of selecting a site in France for a hi-tech factory to produce the closures. The corks are expected to be available to the trade within two years.