My research activity focuses on the chemistry of a class of natural phytochemicals called the phenolic compounds. We address two types of effects, those that are important to the taste of wine, and those that relate to health effects of wine consumers. In both cases we collaborate with others who can help utilize our chemical data and assistance to advantage and vice versa.
In the area of wine quality, our current interest is in the effect of oxidation on wine chemistry, and how this oxidation affects important quality parameters of wine, such as taste and color. We have been studying micro-oxygenation and its effect on wine color and tannins. In general the effects we are seeing are small, but with higher levels of oxygen we are seeing significant changes. We are currently testing some new theories we have on wine oxidation chemistry.
I also participate in the development of general analytical methodology of interest in wine analysis and we have a few different methods published in this area. We are currently applying a number of different methods to look at new grape or wine treatments being offered by various companies.
We have also had an oak and chestnut barrel investigation, looking at the effect of different toasting procedures on the composition and taste of wine. It appears that some subtle differences in cooperage can have a dramatic effect on the composition of the wood and consequently, the wine.