Umami in wine

Published in: Research in Hospitality Management
Volume 2, issue 1-2, 2013 , pages: 25–28
DOI: 10.1080/22243534.2013.11828287
Author(s): Peter KlosseAcademy for International Hospitality Research, Stenden University, The Netherlands


The positive effects of umami on flavour are widely documented, but as far as the author is aware, wines are not mentioned in umami-related literature; vice versa, in wine-related scientific publications, references to umami were not found. In the fermentation and subsequent ageing of wines there is ample opportunity for umami compounds to develop. Umami refers to the taste of free glutamic acid (Glu), an amino acid that can be present in the taste of wine as a result of the grapes used and the applied vinification techniques. Some techniques are likely to enhance the presence of Glu in wines, especially fermentation on yeast lees, a common procedure in the manufacture of many prestigious Chardonnay wines. During the malolactic fermentation, the relative content of Glu is also likely to increase. Sweet wines like Port and Madeira are also reported to have considerable amounts of Glu. In dairy fermentations, such as in cheese, there is sophisticated knowledge about the specific flavours and textures that are formed by different starter lactic acid bacteria. They provide desired enzymes which yield small peptides and free amino acids that give a certain cheese its specific character. As amino acids are also precursors of various volatile flavour compounds such as aldehydes and alcohols the development of specific wine yeasts that could impart specific desirable characteristics to a wine could prove to be an important venture in the production of successful wines.

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