Nav: Home

Coumarin compounds from oak barrels could contribute to bitter taste in wine and spirits

July 15, 2020

Wine and spirits are complex mixtures of flavor and aroma compounds, some of which arise during aging in wooden barrels. Among other compounds, oak wood releases coumarins, but how they affect wine's sensory properties is unclear. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have detected and measured six coumarins in oak wood, wine and spirits, showing that a combination of these compounds can produce a bitter taste.

Oak barrels are often used during the aging of wine and some spirits, including cognac, rum and whiskey. Prolonged contact of the beverages with wood alters their sensory properties, and many oak compounds that contribute to color, aroma, mouthfeel and taste have been identified. Oak wood also contains coumarins -- compounds produced by plants as a defense against predators. Many edible plants make coumarins, which at high doses are used as blood thinners, but the tiny amounts in most foods are not large enough to have anti-coagulant effects. Axel Marchal and colleagues wanted to determine exactly how much of these substances end up in wine and spirits, and how they contribute to the taste of these beverages. 

To find out, the researchers first screened an oak wood extract for various coumarins using liquid chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS). They identified five coumarins already known to be present in oak wood, as well as a previously undetected one called fraxetin. In a taste test, trained sensory panelists described five of the compounds as bitter, whereas fraxetin had a slightly sour taste. The team then measured coumarin concentrations in 90 commercial red or white wines and in 28 spirits. In general, higher levels of coumarins were found in red wines, which are aged for a longer time and in newer barrels, than in white wines. Spirits showed higher levels of coumarins than wines, possibly because of longer aging and a greater alcohol content. The tiny amounts of most of the compounds were below levels that humans can taste, but when the researchers added a mixture of all six to non-oak-aged wines or spirits, sensory panelists detected a significant increase in bitter flavor. Future studies could examine ways to reduce the coumarin content of wooden barrels to produce better-tasting wines and spirits, the researchers say.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from Remy-Martin, Seguin-Moreau and Biolaffort.

The abstract that accompanies this paper can be viewed here.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS' mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people. The Society is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a specialist in scientific information solutions (including SciFinder® and STN®), its CAS division powers global research, discovery and innovation. ACS' main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Aging Articles:

Aging-US: 'From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19' by Mikhail V. Blagosklonny
Aging-US recently published ''From Causes of Aging to Death from COVID-19'' by Blagosklonny et al. which reported that COVID-19 is not deadly early in life, but mortality increases exponentially with age - which is the strongest predictor of mortality.
Understanding the effect of aging on the genome
EPFL scientists have measured the molecular footprint that aging leaves on various mouse and human tissues.
Muscle aging: Stronger for longer
With life expectancy increasing, age-related diseases are also on the rise, including sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass due to aging.
Aging memories may not be 'worse, 'just 'different'
A study from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences adds nuance to the idea that an aging memory is a poor one and finds a potential correlation between the way people process the boundaries of events and episodic memory.
A new biomarker for the aging brain
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in Japan have identified changes in the aging brain related to blood circulation.
Scientists invented an aging vaccine
A new way to prevent autoimmune diseases associated with aging like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease was described in the article.
The first roadmap for ovarian aging
Infertility likely stems from age-related decline of the ovaries, but the molecular mechanisms that lead to this decline have been unclear.
Researchers discover new cause of cell aging
New research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering could be key to our understanding of how the aging process works.
Deep Aging Clocks: The emergence of AI-based biomarkers of aging and longevity
The advent of deep biomarkers of aging, longevity and mortality presents a range of non-obvious applications.
Intelligence can link to health and aging
For over 100 years, scientists have sought to understand what links a person's general intelligence, health and aging.
More Aging News and Aging Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.