Inorganic nitrogen salts, and to a growing extent organic nitrogen preparations, are widely used to ameliorate a nitrogen deficiency in wine fermentation, but the impact of nitrogen supplementation on perceived wine sensory profile is essentially unknown. Supplementation of a low nitrogen Chardonnay grape juice with either ammonium nitrogen or combined amino acid and ammonium nitrogen showed that the type of nitrogen and concentration in the range 160–480 mg N/l had a substantial impact on the formation of yeast volatile compounds and perceived wine aroma. Addition of amino acid and ammonium nitrogen increased both acetate and medium chain fatty acid esters to a greater extent and decreased higher alcohols to a lesser extent than ammonium nitrogen alone whereas ammonium nitrogen substantially increased ethyl acetate and acetic acid. Low nitrogen wines were rated relatively low in floral/fruity aroma descriptors, while moderate nitrogen wines showed a good balance between desirable and less desirable attributes, whereas high nitrogen produced either an acetic/solvent character or highest ratings for floral/fruity attributes, depending on nitrogen type. These results show that amount and type of nitrogen supplement can substantially modulate Chardonnay wine volatiles composition and perceived aroma. (We recommend that you consult the full text of this article).

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