Damascenone, a C-13 norisoprenoid, is an important aroma compound and is universally found in grapes and nearly all wines. It was first characterized as a rose ketone compound1 and has since been described as contributing aromas of honey, fruit, floral, tea, stewed apple, dry plum, dark berries and caramel2-4. In a wine matrix, the odor threshold for damascenone is 4-7 μg/L5. Damascenone is typically found at levels below this threshold in red wines (1-2 μg/L) and at or above this level in white wines (5-10 μg/L). Literature suggests damascenone has an indirect impact on red wine aroma. Damascenone has been shown to increase the threshold of fruity esters (ethyl cinnamate and ethyl caproate) and decrease the odor threshold for IBMP, green bell pepper5.
Techniques that increase damascenone levels include: water deficit irrigation6, shading7, and practicing cold soak maceration with pump overs4. Unlike other norisoprenoids, damascenone does not increase with sun exposure and in fact, interestingly, increases with shading. Damascenone is an important component in wine and although its direct effects in the complex matrix are still being investigated, it has significant indirect impacts on wine aroma and quality.
1. Simpson RF, Miller GC. AROMA COMPOSITION OF CHARDONNAY WINE. Vitis 1984;23(2):143-58.
2. Lopez R, Ezpeleta E, Sanchez I, et al. Analysis of the aroma intensities of volatile compounds released from mild acid hydrolysates of odourless precursors extracted from Tempranillo and Grenache grapes using gas chromatography-olfactometry. Food Chemistry 2004;88(1):95-103.
3. Rutan T, Herbst-Johnstone M, Pineau B, et al. Characterization of the Aroma of Central Otago Pinot noir Wines Using Sensory Reconstitution Studies. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 2014;65(4):424-34.
4. Cai J, Zhu BQ, Wang YH, et al. Influence of pre-fermentation cold maceration treatment on aroma compounds of Cabernet Sauvignon wines fermented in different industrial scale fermenters. Food Chemistry 2014;154:217-29.
5. Pineau B, Barbe JC, Van Leeuwen C, et al. Which impact for beta-damascenone on red wines aroma? Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2007;55(10):4103-8.
6. Ou CR, Du XF, Shellie K, et al. Volatile Compounds and Sensory Attributes of Wine from Cv. Merlot (Vitis vinifera L.) Grown under Differential Levels of Water Deficit with or without a Kaolin-Based, Foliar Reflectant Particle Film. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2010;58(24):12890-8.
7. Lee SH, Seo MJ, Riu M, et al. Vine microclimate and norisoprenoid concentration in cabernet sauvignon grapes and wines. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 2007;58(3):291-301.