We offer an integrated analytical service for the analysis of the most important volatiles in wine. This includes the analysis of 70 components including fermentative aromas (acetaldehyde, diacetyl, major alcohols, fatty acids and their esters), aromas coming from barrels (whiskeylactones, vanillins, eugenol, guaiacols), varietal aromas (terpenes, cinnamates, vinylphenols and norisoprenoids), and brettanomyces aromas (ethylphenols), among others.
The profile we provide includes most of the information required for the aromatic characterization of wine and a great deal of information related with varietal origin, fermentative processes and ageing that can be used for the complete characterization of wine, the diagnosis of fermentative problems or the identification of fraud.
The lab also offers more specific analytical services for larger numbers of samples (>10) and with longer delivery dates. This is the case of very volatile sulphur compounds (sulfhydric acid, methanethiol, dimethyl sulfide, etc), compounds specifically related with oxidative problems or fungal contamination (methional, phenyl acetaldehyde, E-2-nonenal, 1-octen-3-one, etc.), aromatic precursors of a glycosidic and cysteinic nature, amino acids and biogenic amines.
Finally, we offer a more sophisticated service for the complete aromatic profiling of a wine by means of Gas Chromatography-Olfactometry, including the possibility of identifying through mass spectrometry and sensory analysis unknown aromas causing off-flavors or peculiar aromas.
The sensory quality (principally odor and taste) of a product is the consequence of the existence of a particular profile of sensory-active molecules. Such molecules can be isolated and identified combining methods of chemical separation (chromatograpy) with sensory analysis and with techniques for chemical structure elucidation (mass spectrometry). Subsequently, it is possible to build sensory models by recombining sensory-active molecules in the same proportions found in the product and to carry out variations to understand how the different molecules affect the sensory properties of the product, proceeding to its reformulation or optimisation.
In the case of complex products, it is also necessary to establish the relationship between sensory- active molecules, precursor molecules and the processes in which they are generated.
There are also situations in which the problem is more specific and it is interesting to identify or characterise off-flavors or off-tastes caused by chemical molecules. These molecules are frequently present in concentrations so low that conventional chemical characterisation of the product will likely fail, giving misleading results. An example of this is the off-flavor known as “cork” or “wet” in wine, which is caused by a molecule present in concentrations around 0.0000000002% (2 ng/L or 2 ppt). It is impossible to identify this molecule in a conventional way, even when applying the most potent analytical techniques.
For the characterisation of these kinds of problems, it is necessary to apply sensory directed analytical strategies for which LAAE is the absolute leader worldwide. These strategies involve a combination of potent systems of chemical separation with sensory analysis and mass spectrometry.
Once the molecule has been identified, it is likely that its source can also be identified (external contamination, microbiological degradation, oxidation, etc.) so as to prevent and avoid their occurrence or to design strategies for their removal.
Lastly, LAAE has extensive experience in training and certifying panels for the sensory evaluation of liquid products. Sensory evaluation is a measuring technique in which a group of properly trained people evaluate the different sensory characteristics. As in every measuring technique, the precision and accuracy must be sufficient to successfully deal with the problem and the evaluation should be recorded and processed according to the requirements of the certification. The training of sensory panels requires the know-how to formulate reference standards for taste and flavor, and also comprehensive knowledge of metrology. LAAE has the capacity to undertake this type of work and is familiar with the regulatory requirements of metrology and sensory analysis.