Thursday, June 01, 2006

Behind the Wine Aroma

Aroma is an interesting topic as most of the labels on new world wine describe the wine’s character and food pairing preferences, much like a match making attempt. If one spends time to discover the world of winemaking, you will notice that aromas is assisted by the use of appropriate yeast, cultured and selected to extract or suppress certain characters of the fruits. Researchers in major wine producing countries spent years in identifying the compounds that are responsible for certain flavors. For example, the herbaceous, grassy descriptors (e.g capsicum, asparagus) of a Sauvignon Blanc are known as the “green” characters whereas the fruity descriptors (e.g grapefruit, gooseberry, passion fruit) are known as the “tropical” characters. It is discovered that the green characters are derived from bio-synthesized compounds containing nitrogen and come directly from the grapes. On the other hand, the tropical characters in Sauvignon Blanc are contributed by fermentation-driven esters. The important chemical compounds (3MHA, 4MMP, 3MH) impart passion fruit, grapefruit, gooseberry and guava type of aromas to wine. At excessive concentrations, it reminds me of a uniquely strong, sweaty aromas reminiscent of cat’s urine. A description widely quoted from Jancis Robinson – “Cats’ pee on a gooseberry bush”.

Reference: J.H. Swiegers, E.J.Bartowsky, P.A. Henschke and I.S. Pretorius, Yeast and Bacterial Modulation of Wine Aroma and Flavour: Part 1. The Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research 11, 139-173 (2005)

By Cher Lim
Wine Treasures Pte Ltd
Website: http//



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