Whats in Wine?

Red Wine Composition

Most of this data was collected and written by students of the class, Natural Products of Wine, in 2004. Their names are noted at the bottom of the articles. This is supplemented by additional student reports in 2015 and 2016.


Sulfites or sulfur dioxide is a fruit preservative widely used in dried fruits as well as wine.  It is also produced by the human body at the level of about 1000 mg (milligrams) per day.  Consumption of food preserved with sulfites is generally not a problem except for a few people who are deficient in the natural enzyme to break it down.  For these people, the additional sulfites from food can be a problem.  There are reports of severe and life threatening reactions when sulfites were added at erroneously and enormously high levels (100 times what was supposed


A key yeast metabolite and oxidation product. Tyler Thomas, 2004


The most abundant compounds in wine after water and ethanol. Christin Carlson, 2004

Fixed Acidity

Acidity is a fundamental property of wine, imparting sourness and resistance to microbial infection. Doug Nierman, 2004

Amino Acids/ Proteins

Yeast need amino acids and ammonia for an efficient fermentation. Jessica Harness 2004


Key factors in red wine taste and mouthfeel. Christopher Johnson, 2016

Higher Alcohols

Yeast create other alcohols aside from ethanol; these are fundamental component of brandy aroma. Rodrigo Blazquez, 2004


Juice contains many minerals that affect fermentation and subsequent reactions. Diane Y. Choo 2004.

Volatile Acidity

Wine spoilage is legally defined by volatile acidity, largely composed of acetic acid. Ezekeil Neeley, 2004


The glycosylated flavonoid responsible for the color of red wine. Carl Formaker, 2015


Flavanols are "sunscreen" for grapes. They have an effect on co-pigmentation. Michael Garrison, 2015.


Polymers of flavan-3-ols; the larger structures are condensed tannins. Catherine Harvey, 2015.


Derived wine pigments created from grape anthocyanins and reactions with fermentation and oxidation products. Jenn Angelosante 2015


Pyranoanthocyanins resulting from the addition of pyruvic acid or acetaldehyde to anthocyanins, contributing to wine color and color stability. Thi Nguyen, 2016


Non-flavonids important as phytoalexins. Includes resveratrol. Justin Beaver, 2016

Oak Lactones

Oak lactones are key to the aroma imparted by oak barrels. The aroma of bourbon whiskey is dominated by oak lactones and vanillin. Sean Eridon, 2015


Damascenone is an important aroma compounds found in wine and many other fruit products. Sarah Goins, 2015.

Volatile Thiols

Sulfur containing compounds have high aroma impact, including key varietal flavors. Avery Heelan, 2015


A diverse group of aromatic substances. Charles Henschen, 2015.


Key aromatic substances in particular wines, such as Muscats, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Torrontés. Trevor Grace, 2015.


Methoxypyrazines are powerful aroma compounds that have bell pepper and related vegetal aromas. David Raffaele, 2015.


An essential micronutrient, it can also affect wine oxidation. Joshua Godshaw, 2016


An element found in the environment. Courtney Tanabe, 2016