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J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Feb 26;51(5):1373-6.

Contribution of benzenemethanethiol to smoky aroma of certain Vitis vinifera L. wines.

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Faculté d'Oenologie, Université de Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, 351 cours de la Libération, 33405 Talence, France.


Benzenemethanethiol, a volatile thiol with a strong empyreumatic aroma reminiscent of smoke, has been identified in boxwood (Buxus sempervirens L.) as well as in red and white Vitis vinifera L. wines. The perception threshold in a model hydroalcoholic solution is approximately 0.3 ng/L. All of the wines analyzed for this study contained this compound in concentrations of several dozen nanograms per liter. The Chardonnay wines had 30-40 ng/L. Sensory discrimination between a wine containing 7 ng/L benzenemethanethiol and the same wine with an additional 4 ng/L is very significant; the difference in smell is described as "empyreumatic". This compound can therefore significantly contribute to the aroma of certain wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, etc.) containing concentrations as high as 30-100 times higher than their perception threshold.

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