Definition - What does Terpenes mean?

Terpenes include a large and diverse category of compounds that are produced by many plants and some animals.

In the wine industry, only a handful of grape varieties release aromas from terpenes. One example is the Muscat grape. For some wines and even beer, this is a desired trait. An example would be the terpenes released from hops in beer-making.

WineFrog explains Terpenes

Terpenes are the compounds produced by plants which are extracted for essential oils. They are organic compounds that are isoprenoids derived from a 5-carbon unit; C5H6.

According to UC Davis, more than 50 terpenic compounds have been identified in wine and grapes.

The varieties of grapes which contain the highest amount of terpenes are the Muscat, including Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Hamburg. Other varieties with terpenic qualities are Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Torrontés.

Aromas found in grapes and/or wine that fall into the category of terpenes are:

  • Rose
  • Citrus oil
  • Chili spice
  • Coriander/Cilantro
  • Notes of plants that get their aroma from their resin; Rosemary, Evergreens, Geranium, etc.
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