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11.18.2005

Metal = Color in Your Wine

We learn more about wine every day. And I mean that in both the immediate and the global sense of things. I know I am learning more about wine every day, but increasingly the scientific community is also delving into the mysteries of wine. Here's a recent study which, though poorly reported on in this article, sounds really interesting. Scientists have started to understand the correlations between metal content in the soil, the resulting biochemistry of the grapes grown in it, and the subsequent color extraction that is possible in the wine. What's most interesting to me about this study is that instead of being about certain metals leading to deep colors, these scientists have actually correlated certain metals with certain hues in the resulting wine. In particular, they found a correllation between a higher content of iron in the seeds of the grape, and the more bluish tones of the resulting wine. If the article were written a bit better I might be able to understand more of what they were measuring, but the notion is enticing.

Comments (1)

NLA wrote:
11.19.05 at 1:49 PM

As a chemist, I don't find this nearly as surprising as a non-chemist would. A lot of natural colors are due to transition metals. Specifically these colors represent transitions in electronic energy levels. As you might suspect, the exact color of metals in solution depends on a lot of factors including the type(s) of metals, their oxidation states, and what kinds of ligands (sets of atoms bound to the metal) they have.

From a scientific perspective, the real discovery of the study was to provide an equation that objectively gives clues to wine quality. They also seem to have demonstrated that when a red wine isn't as red as expected/desired, it may be due to a high iron content (which makes sense since Fe2+ is blue in basic conditions).

I can't tell you much more about it without the actual article.

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