Sunday, January 30, 2011

MEASURING THE TANNIN FINGERPRINT IN WINE


Wine News

Wine scientists at the University of California at Davis have developed a way of identifying which grape varietal a wine is made from by looking at the “fingerprint” of the wine’s tannin.

In an article in Wine Spectator, Dr. Eric Anslyn says the process involves an array of chemicals with which the wine’s tannic structure reacts.   “It really relates to the DNA coding of the wine,” says Dr. Anslyn.

Another UC-Davis scientific bigwig says that identifying a grape’s DNA is easy - well, by scientific standards - but until now, no way existed of getting to the DNA level of a finished wine.

The discovery of this process was actually a happy byproduct of scientists looking for something else.  The researchers were actually trying to study the way mammals taste and smell to develop new ways of diagnosing disease.  They chose tannins in wine as the focal point because they are complex and because wine is popular.

The scientists have yet to try the method on blended wines or aged wines, but they expect to do so in the future.  Also, the error rate has not been determined, but even in its preliminary state, there are indications that this process could be a leap forward in medicine as well as wine.