minerality, Portugal, sensory, SOMM Journal, Terroir, Wine, wine faults, Winemaking
Comment 1

Your glass is half full

Minerality — Without question the most controversial and elusive of wine descriptors.   This comes as no surprise given that the exact definition of what minerals themselves are is still under debate and has been expanded as an element or compound formed through “biogeochemical” processes.  Nutrient or dietary minerals—single elements like manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, copper and zinc—are minor components of red wine. White wines have small amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. A serving of wine can also contain several milligrams of halite, the mineral salt (sodium chloride is the chemical name for salt), and we can accurately describe its taste in wine as saline minerality.

Knowing that wine contains minerals, why is describing minerality so problematic?  Largely because aside from halite, nutrient minerals are essentially tasteless. Only when they’re in a highly concentrated liquid form, for example as a dietary supplement, do they taste offensively bitter. But the elusive flavors we describe as “mineral” in some wines can be readily attributed to specific compounds. The two of the most common are TDN (1,11.6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene), which is the source of petrol notes in Riesling, and benzyl mercaptan, the source of smoky or flinty notes to Sauvignon Blanc. TDN is found in all internationally important varieties and at high enough concentrations it can be considered a flaw or fault. Read the complete article here – your-glass-is-half-full

1 Comment

  1. Deborah, I really enjoyed your full article, thanks for sharing. On a recent visit to Sancerre, we had a fun discussion with our wine tour guide. Locals there are almost offended that we ascribe “minerality” so broadly to the wines from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, when they stress the different soils produce quite different flavors with minerality limited to flint soils. We tried to explain our point of view includes New Zealand, California, South Africa, so our reference for “fruity” and “mineral” might be different.

    Liked by 1 person

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