Research Puts Spotlight on How Aged Wine Gets its Aroma
Have you ever opened a bottle of wine and taken the time to just enjoy the aromas that come out of its finish? If so, then tantalizing, exciting, and even sensual are likely to come to mind whenever you get a whiff of a newly uncorked bottle.
You should know that there’s just one enzyme responsible for giving aged wines those wonderful aromas everyone enjoys.
This seemingly meaningless jumble of numbers and letters may not sound romantic, but it is the enzyme responsible for giving wine the kind of aromas that help in crafting the dreamy mood that poets love to write about. It is an essential piece in the creation of fine wine.
CYP76F14 is a member of the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes. They’re a group of enzymes which are involved in the formation and breakdown of certain chemicals and molecules.
Researchers analysed a large sample of French grapes, as well as red and white wines through a procedure called liquid chromatograph mass spectrometry.
The researchers found that CYP76F14 is already working during the grape growth period. The enzyme helps convert a plant compound, monoterpenol linalool, and transforms it into another compound called (E)-8-carboxylinalool.
As the wine ages, (E)-8-carboxylinalool slowly changes into wine lactone, which is a good smelling compound that gives the aged wine its wonderful aroma. (E)-8-carboxylinalool is also present in other fruits such as apples.
Basically, CYP76F14 is the very reason that aged wine smells so great.
A number of contributing factors
The study that brought CYP6F14 to the spotlight was published in New Pythologist, and is an interesting read for winemakers who are interested in the scientific approach of analysing wine.
“Combining different analytical techniques was key in our work, and this broad picture helped us learn more about how common plant molecules are transformed into specific wine aroma,” said Dr. Nicolas Navrot, senior author of the article.
CYP76F14 certainly plays a factor in the production of good wine, but there are a number of other contributing factors. There’s also the right terroir, climate, and a winemaker’s desire to make the best product they can make – which is arguably the most important factor.
Thankfully, you don’t have to know what CYP76F14 is or even remember the name to enjoy good wine. It’s just nice to know that long before you taste it, and even as a winemaker does his job, nature finds a way to help bring the bounty of wine to life.