• I had someone ask me today about the chemical composition of wine.



    I responded with “Um… that is a very broad subject. Do you want to know about the acids found in wine (tartaric, citric, acetic, lactic or malic)? Or perhaps you wanted to know about the polyphenols that are broken down into flavonoids (anthocyanin or tannins) and non-flavonoids (like phenolic acids and stilbenoids)? Maybe you mean the types of sugars found before fermentation like glucose, fructose and sucrose? Could it be sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide (both natural byproducts, but also can be added as a preservative and bubbly maker respectively)?

    At this point he stopped me and said that he meant the chemical compounds that made the aromas in wine. I replied, “So like pyrazines are responsible for bell pepper character and terpenes for fruity/floral characteristics?”

    He was a bit frustrated at this point and said, “No, like what are the differences in wine, like oak versus stainless steel  and what does it do to the wine?“

    “Ohhhhhh… I was way off base.”

    Now part of me was being a smart ass, because I couldn’t imagine he wanted to get into a discussion about the actual minutia of the chemistry of wine. I honestly though, had no idea what he was on about.

    Side note: If you really do want to know what components in wine affect how it tastes/smells then read “Winetaster’s Secrets: A step-by-step guide to the joy of winetasting” by Andrew Sharp. It is an absolutely glorious book! I read through about a dozen books on wine tasting and nearly all were made by or for stupid-heads (and yes that is the appropriate term), but not this one!



    In my sensation and perception class we went over a lot of what is covered in the aforementioned book. Like, how every sense is encoded into an electrical current that is then translated at specific places in the brain. Interestingly enough, some people have their brain wired differently and can actually see sounds or hear visual movement (they are called synesthetes and the condition they have is called synesthesia).

    Wouldn’t it be wild if you could swirl a glass of wine and hear noises while watching it swirl? Of course that is as long as it’s not like those little clown horns that ice cream cart peddlers use that drives me absolutely bonkers.



    I realize at this point I haven’t gone into depth on anything, but next post I swear I’ll go into ingratiating detail about just how much I hate those damnable horns.