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Polyfunctional thiols have previously been shown to be key aroma compounds in Sauvignon blanc and more recently in Chardonnay wines. Their role in other wine varieties such as those made from three popular indigenous Cypriot grape varieties has remained unexplored. As an extension of a previous project that profiled the sensory and chemical characteristics of Cypriot wines and their comparison to Australian wines, this study aimed to investigate five potent thiols in Xynisteri, Maratheftiko, Giannoudhi, Pinot gris, Chardonnay and Shiraz wines.
Wines were analysed utilising Stable Isotope Dilution Assay (SIDA) with derivatisation and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). The varietal thiols measured were 4-methyl-4-sulfanylpentan-2-one (4MSP) that has an aroma of “boxwood” and “cat urine” at high concentration, 3-sulfanylhexan-1-ol (3SH) which has been described as having a “grapefruit/tropical fruit” aroma, and 3-sulfanylhexyl acetate (3SHA) that has also been described as having an aroma of “passionfruit”. Additionally, two other potent thiols were measured including benzyl mercaptan (BM) that has an aroma of “smoke and meat” and furfuryl thiol (FFT) that has been described as having a “roasted coffee” like aroma. The reason these thiols are known as potent thiols are due to their very low aroma detection thresholds in the low ng/L (ppt) range. Of the thiols that were measured, 3SH was the only varietal thiol detected in the red wine samples. All of the white wine samples contained 3SH, BM and 3SHA, whereas 4MSP was only detected in Pinot gris and three Xynisteri wines. The potent thiol, FFT, was detected only in the Chardonnay and four of the Xynisteri wines. Interestingly the thiols that were present in the samples were found at concentrations above their aroma detection thresholds (determined in hydroalcoholic solutions), especially 3SH which was found in an order of magnitude above its aroma detection threshold. These findings provide early knowledge of the presence of these thiols in Cypriot wines, compared with Australian wines and establish any relationships between this chemical data with previous wine sensory profile data.
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