GC-MS

  • How Does Oak Affect a Wine's Character? - Chromatography Explores

How Does Oak Affect a Wine's Character? - Chromatography Explores

Jan 28 2020 Read 660 Times

Wine making is a relatively simple process that has been practiced for thousands of years. The oldest example of wine is reportedly from an excavation in Georgia where tell-tale chemical signatures suggest wine making taking place around 8000 years ago. It is a natural process that is both science and art.

Much has been written about how terroir can impact a wine’s characteristics, less has been written about some of the other factors affecting a wine’s flavour. A recent paper in the journal Foods has investigated one particular aspect of the wine making process - aging - and how this can be altered using oak. And chromatography had the pleasure of measuring the difference oak can make to wine.

A relatively simple process

As stated, wine making is a relatively simple process that has been broadly understood for centuries. Most wine making follows five steps.

  • Harvesting - the first step in the process and potentially one of the most important. The moment the grapes are picked from the vine determines the acidity, sweetness and flavours that the grapes can give to the wine.
  • Crush and press - the grape juice is released from the grapes. Traditionally done in a big barrel by foot, nowadays it is likely to be a mechanical process. Generally, white wines are separated from their skins and red wines are not so that they can get more flavour, colour and tannin.
  • Fermentation - the natural sugars in the grapes are converted into alcohol using yeast.
  • Clarification - the solids are removed from the wine.
  • Aging and bottling - the final stage and the last chance for a winemaker to practice his art. Aging can alter the wine’s profile and flavour - and oak barrels are a favourite of many vintners.

Differences between oaks

Using wooden barrels to age or alter a drink is commonplace. Distilleries use old barrels to store their product for a minimum of three years adding colour and flavour to malt whisky. And oak adds flavour and aroma to wine that has been aged in oak barrels or stored with oak chips. But the question arises - are all oaks the same when it comes to wine?

In the paper referenced above, researchers tested wines aged using American and French oak chips for 1.5 and 3 months. They analysed the wines for aroma chemicals using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The use of MS to analyse complex samples is discussed in the article, Recent Advances to Conquer Analytical Challenges with High-Resolution, Accurate Mass Spectrometry.

The scientists behind the research found clear differences between wines treated with French and American oak chips. There was also a measurable difference in the wines aged for longer. GC-MS extracted compounds that showed the differences between the French and American oak aged wines. - with the French oak wines having higher concentrations of compounds that generate smoky, liquorice and toasty aromas.

Reader comments

Do you like or dislike what you have read? Why not post a comment to tell others / the manufacturer and our Editor what you think. To leave comments please complete the form below. Providing the content is approved, your comment will be on screen in less than 24 hours. Leaving comments on product information and articles can assist with future editorial and article content. Post questions, thoughts or simply whether you like the content.

Post a Comment




Digital Edition

Chromatography Today - March 2020

March 2020

In This Edition Articles - Elimination of the Sample Solvent Effect when Analysing Water Solutions of Basic Peptides by HILIC - Method Development and Validation of Simultaneous Determinatio...

View all digital editions

Events

ASMS Conference

May 31 2020 Houston, TX, USA

PREP 2020 - EVENT CANCELLED

May 31 2020 Baltimore, MD, USA

ISMM 2020

Jun 07 2020 Taipei, Taiwan

HPLC 2020

Jun 20 2020 San Diego, CA, USA

IMSC 2020

Aug 29 2020 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

View all events