Definition - What does Compound mean?

The chemical structure of wine is made up of an array of components called compounds. The chemical compounds include water, alcohols, acids, carbohydrates, tannins, phenolics, nitrogenous substances and other flavor compounds. While water makes up the largest percentage of a wine’s composition, each of these compounds are important to the taste, development, flavors and characteristics of wine.

WineFrog explains Compound

Each compound plays a part in the overall makeup of the wine’s chemical structure. The finished wine will also have differing compounds which are dependent on the type of grape variety used to make it, viticultural practices, environmental influences, like climate and soil, and seasonal changes. It is the balance of compounds, which can total between 800 -1000 individual chemicals, that make up the specific characteristics of a finished wine.

The primary compounds of wine include the following:

  • Water is needed first and foremost, but its concentration will vary between different types of wine (like red vs. white).
  • Carbohydrates are required for yeast to convert sugars to fructose and glucose, with pectins making up the more complex carbs.
  • There are two types of alcohol, ethanol and glycerol, that can be produced in large quantities or trace amounts, all depending on the type of wine and fermentation processes used.
  • Acids are also present in all wines, malic and tartaric acids come from the grapes and add to the crisp taste of the juice to the finished wine.
  • The phenolics affect the color and the taste of wine along with the tannins, which function as preservatives and antioxidants.
  • The nitrogenous substances are mostly proteins that the bacteria and yeasts use to grow.
  • The other flavor compounds are present in trace amounts, and they contribute to the wine’s flavors and aromas.
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