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Potent thiols responsible for “Empyreumatic” flint/struck-match/mineral odours

Potent thiols responsible for “Empyreumatic” flint/struck-match/mineral odours

A wide range of Chardonnay styles exist on the market, from fruit-forward examples to wines displaying “empyreumatic” aromas such as flint, smoky, mineral, and struck-match. The thiols 2-furylmethanethiol and phenylmethanethiol have been linked to these aromas, and this study aimed to determine the contribution of these compounds to specific sensory properties in Chardonnay wines, as well as the consumer acceptance of wine displaying “empyreumatic” aromas.

Twenty-four Australian and New Zealand Chardonnay wines were selected for volatile analysis and quantitative sensory descriptive analysis. Consumer liking of a subset of six wines was also determined, and a further sensory study involving additions of the thiols to a base wine was conducted. Partial least squares regression showed that flint/struck-match/mineral aromas were related to 2-furylmethanethiol concentration with phenylmethanethiol less well associated. The odorant addition study confirmed that 2-furylmethanethiol directed flint/struck-match/mineral aromas and exerted strong suppression of other aromas while phenylmethanethiol played a lesser role. Consumer acceptance (n = 92) was overall lower for wines displaying high flint/struck-match/mineral aromas, although cluster analysis of the liking scores identified a sizeable consumer group (33%) who preferred wines with this attribute.

The potent thiol 2-furylmethanethiol was indicated to be the primary contributor to flint/struck-match/mineral aromas in Chardonnay wines, with phenylmethanethiol playing a subordinate role.

Increased concentration of 2-furylmethanethiol and the conferred “empyreumatic” odours should be carefully considered when producing wine styles to appeal to consumers.


Reference article
Damian Espinase Nandorfy, Tracey Siebert, Eleanor Bilogrevic, Desireé Likos, Flynn Watson, Sheridan Barter, Lisa Pisaniello, Allie Kulcsar, Robert A. Shellie, Russell Keast, Leigh Francis, Marlize Bekker, "The Role of Potent Thiols in “Empyreumatic” Flint/Struck-Match/Mineral Odours in Chardonnay Wine", Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, vol. 2023, Article ID 8847476, 17 pages, 2023.

Published on 10/11/2023
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