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J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Nov;48(11):5383-8.

Differentiation of the aromas of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines using sensory and instrumental analysis.

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  • 1Unité de recherche Biopolymères et Arômes, INRA-Institut des Produits de la Vigne, 2 place P. Viala, 34060 Montpellier Cedex 01, France.


The aromas of six Merlot and three Cabernet Sauvignon wines of the 1996 vintage from the Bordeaux region were evaluated by sensory analysis. A panel of selected enology students was trained to assess 20 attributes previously generated for these wines by enologists of Bordeaux. Using statistical methods, this 20-attribute list was reduced to a 12-attribute list. The aroma profiles of the wines of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were very close. Differentiation of the wines of these two varieties was significant only for the caramel descriptor, which was rated higher in the Merlot wines. Gas chromatography/olfactometry (GC/O) and GC/MS analyses were used to detect and identify the potent odorants with the caramel odor in the two most differentiated samples for this attribute, a Merlot wine and a Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Two odorant zones with this odor resulted in identification of 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethylfuran-3(2H)-one (HDMF) and 4-hydroxy-2(or 5)-ethyl-5(or 2)-methylfuran-3(2H)-one (HEMF). Aroma extract dilution analysis (AEDA) method showed a higher dilution factor (FD) for HDMF in the Merlot wine extract than in the Cabernet Sauvignon extract. The HDMF levels determined in the wines studied using a stable isotope dilution assay (SIDA) method were consistent with the results found by sensory analysis and GC/O; i.e., higher HDMF levels were present in the Merlot wines than in the Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

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