Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Wine Composition and sensory science

Uncovering the complex relationships associated with grape production, wine composition and wine sensory features.  From the impact of light and metal ions on oxidative wine spoilage, to developing tools and methods to better predict wine stability, and regional wine profiling.

Selected Research Projects

Metal ion speciation: Understanding its role in wine development and generating a tool to minimise wine spoilage

Team leader: Dr Andrew C Clark (NWGIC)

Team members: Dr Celia Barril (NWGIC), Dr Nikos Kodoudakis (NWGIC), Prof Leigh Schmidtke (NWGIC), Dr Eric Wilkes (AWRI), Dr Marlize Bekker (AWRI)

The overall aim of this project was to develop knowledge regarding the Cu and Fe speciation in wine, wine binding agents and also to produce a routine test applicable for winery use that will allow winemakers to assess the impact of reactive metal in wine on spoilage and beneficial reactions.

Using a variety of techniques that measured different forms of metal ions in wine, a survey of 50 wines was conducted. The results showed that Cu is predominantly in a sulfide-bound form in wine, while the results for Fe were more variable and linked to organic acid- or phenolic-binders, depending on wine type. The sulfide-bound form of Cu was less reactive in catalysing oxidative reactions in wine, but could be converted to the more reactive non-sulfide bound form with oxygen exposure to wine or storage conditions conducive to loss of volatile compounds. Wines stored in anaerobic conditions, as found in most wines bottled under screw cap, tended to induce conversion of any non-sulfide bound forms of Cu in wine into sulfide bound forms. A colorimetric method for the measurement of Cu speciation in wine is currently being investigated.

The Determination of Total Cu in White Wine by BCA Colorimetric Analysis

Impacts of viticultural conditions and juice composition on the oxidative and reductive development of wine.

Team leader: Dr Andrew C Clark (NWGIC)

Team members: Dr Guillaume Antalick (University of Nova Gorica), Dr John Blakman (NWGIC), Dr Nikos Kodoudakis (NWGIC), Dr Katja Ċ uklje (University of Nova Gorica), Xinyi Zhang (NWGIC PhD Candidate)

The development of wine in bottle can often follow one of three pathways; ‘optimum’, oxidative or reductive, where ‘optimum’ is the wine balancing on a knife edge between reductive and oxidative. Recently the evolution of new analytical methodologies has provided great insight into the oxidative and reductive development potential of wine, including the ability to measure a reservoir of compounds able to influence wine development. More specifically, it is the free and bound volatile aldehyde compounds relevant to oxidative development (i.e., methional, phenylacetaldehyde), and free and bound sulfide compounds relevant to reductive development (i.e., hydrogen sulfide, methanethiol). Critically, a significant portion of these compounds are generated during fermentation and are present in the young wine, but hidden from the sensory features of the wine in bound forms. The release of the reservoir of bound forms of these compounds could significantly impact wine flavour even within the first year of bottling the wine.

This project project will assess production of the reservoir of potential spoilage compounds in the wine through a set of experimental Shiraz wines produced from warm/hot and cool/temperate vineyards under different water regimes from different vintages and sequential harvest dates.

Benchmarking regional and subregional influences on Shiraz fine wines.

Team leader: Dr John Blackman (NWGIC)

Team members: Dr Andrew Clark (NWGIC), Prof Leigh Schmidtke (NWGIC), Dr Andrew Hall (Charles Sturt University/ NWGIC), Dr Leigh Francis (AWRI), Dr Sijing Li (NWGIC), Wes Pearson (AWRI & NWGIC PhD candidate)

This project is strongly aligned with the AGWA Strategic Plan Priority 1: Increasing Demand; Strategy 3 Building Australian Grape and Wine Excellence – Wine Provenance and Measures of Quality. This multidisciplinary project will define the sensory properties of Shiraz wines from selected regions in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and identify the sensory and chemical attributes associated with typicality from these regions by drawing upon the collective expertise of climate scientists, wine scientists and sensory experts. Geographical Indications (GI) to be studied will be selected based upon commercial reputation for consistent production of fine wines and systematic searches of climate data (SILO/AWAP) to match regions with similar and differing climatic conditions as designated by climatic indices (Huglin, cool night, rainfall). Typicality and regionality of fine Shiraz wines will be identified using comprehensive sensorial profiling of a selection of wines chosen by an expert panel of winemakers. Specific markers of terroir will also be identified using a range of targeted and untargeted chemical analyses. In addition, an international sommelier delegation will sort and ascribe preferences to a selection of premium Shiraz/Syrah wines.