Volatile Compounds

Definition - What does Volatile Compounds mean?

In the tasting of a wine, the "volatile compounds" are those compounds which evaporate from the wine and become suspended on the surface of the wine and in its holding vessel (i.e. glass, decanter, etc.) They are the very compounds which contribute to a wine's aroma. The compounds are vaporized and noted in the retro-nasal region of our palates.

WineFrog explains Volatile Compounds

It is during the periods of fermentation and first few months following fermentation that chemical reactions between wine and compounds will have the most influence on a wine's aroma than during any other stage in the wine's life. They are responsible for the wine's aroma and combine with the wine's sugars. Below are some examples of identified volatile compounds (some of which might be familiar):

  • Methoxypyrazine (aka Pyrazine) - a grassy or green, bell-pepper aroma associated commonly with Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc
  • Monoterpenes - volatile compounds associated with floral characteristics found in Gewurztraminer and Muscat
  • Norisoprenoids-Carotenoid - a compound which produces spice notes commonly linked to Chardonnay and Syrah
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