Texas team invents chemical process to distinguish winegrape varieties

on 11/12/10 at 4:47 pm

Wine

The 'pinwheel receptor' shows color differences among samples.

Texas team’s process mimics human sensory abilities to distinguish winegrape varieties.

A decade of medical research at the University of Texas, Austin, unexpectedly resulted in a potentially valuable process for the wine industry. In an attempt to develop a technique to mimic the mammalian sense of taste, Dr. Eric Anslyn and his team of undergraduate researchers devised a combination of chemicals that can pinpoint differences in tannins and flavonoids in wine.

As reported recently in “Highlights in Chemical Science” from the Royal Society of Chemistry, Anslyn and his colleagues used the new process to sample red wines from different vintners. They were able to distinguish among Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot by adding the wines to a sensor equipped with color-changing indicators, similar to a highly sophisticated litmus test.

“Picture a lot different spots, each in a different color. Imagine bathing them in wine,” Anslyn suggested. “Each spot changes color to some extent, and you read the pattern from the changes in color,” he explained to Wines & Vines. “The patterns relate to the DNA content of the grapes.”

{Full story via Wines and Vines}

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