Scientists identify enzyme that gives aged wine its alluring aroma

The findings may help winemakers produce grapes that yield even better-smelling aged wines.

By Brooks Hays

SONOMA, Calif., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Oenophiles appreciate aged wines for their their bouquet, or aroma, as well their taste. New research reveals the enzyme responsible for the alluring scent of aged wine.

As one might imagine, the enzyme is involved in the breakdown of molecules. The more time it's left to work, the more the aroma comes to life.


Scientists have dubbed the enzyme CYP76F14. It hails from a family of enzymes called cytochrome P450. Its enzyme relatives perform similar chemical-breakdown work.

The specific role of CYP76F14 is to break monoterpenol linalool down into a different compound, (E)-8-carboxylinalool. As the wine ages, the (E)-8-carboxylinalool is converted into wine lactone, which is responsible for the pleasing smell.

The findings, detailed in the journal New Phytologist, may help winemakers and grape growers improve breeding techniques to produce grapes rich in CYP76F14.

"Combining different analytical techniques was key in our work, and this broad picture helped us learn more about how common plant molecules are transformed into specific wine aroma," lead researcher Nicolas Navrot said in a news release.

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