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Molecular drivers of wine texture and taste


Summary

Objective

To identify the compounds that lead to positive and negative taste and texture outcomes.

Background

It has been proposed that in-mouth texture defines the ‘typicality’ of many of the most valuable commercial wines of the world, for example the creaminess of barrel-fermented Chardonnay wine and the rich full-bodied expression of Shiraz. It could also be argued that consumers place a higher value on these wines as a result of the perception of uniqueness of some sensory property, whether it be flavour or texture, associated with a particular region or vineyard site. Despite knowledge of molecular drivers for ‘mouthfulness’ (or ‘kokumi’) in foods, similar compounds have not yet been characterised in wines, nor have their functions been defined.

Research approach

This project will identify compounds or classes of compounds leading to positive taste and textural characteristics in wine such as texture, creaminess, viscosity, savouriness, mouthfulness and balanced acidity. It will define risk factors throughout wine production that may contribute to the presence of specific phenolic and other non-volatile compounds in white and red wine associated with negative wine attributes. These include browning reactions leading to premature ageing of white wines, colour loss in red wines, bitterness and excessive astringency.

Sector benefits

This project will generate new knowledge on the molecular drivers of positive taste and texture characteristics, and also of negative attributes such as bitterness, aggressive or unbalanced astringency, palate hardness, unpleasant acidity taste profiles, hotness and pungency. Generation of that knowledge is key to an improved understanding of the impact of various vineyard and winery inputs on wine composition and sensory properties.