Molecular drivers of wine texture and taste
This project continues key elements of current research and will realise opportunities for identifying compounds that lead to positive and negative taste and texture outcomes, throughout wine production. Such negative characters can occur through different stages of the wine production process, from grapegrowing (temperature and exposure impacts), throughout processing, and also post-bottling.
Increasingly the premiumisation of red and white wine is inseparable from the concept of texture as it defines style and typicality (the interaction between terroir and winemaking practice). 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 white Burgundy, the oily texture of Alsatian Pinot Gris made from high solids juices, and the oily and drying nature of Viognier made with skin contact from the Northern Rhone, or the rich full-bodied expression of Shiraz produced in the Barossa. It could also be argued that the high value placed on these wines by consumers is the result of a perception of uniqueness of some sensory property, whether it be flavour or texture, associated with a particular region or vineyard site. In terms of taste, many European and new Australian styles of red wines, are positively characterised by a savouriness, but despite knowledge of molecular drivers of savoury (e.g. umami) flavours in foods, similar compounds have not yet been characterised or their functions defined in wines. Compounds described by ‘mouthfulness’, or ‘kokumi’ have also been characterised in foods but not in wine, but evidence exists that such compounds may be present in wines.