Month: July 2019

Wine Science Cafés are great. At least, I think so.

By Paula Silva

Wine Science Cafés started in January of 2019, so it is time to make a reflection about their meaning and importance. These events are one of the approaches included in Science & Wine communication project aimed to share scientific data in vine and wine research areas. Wine Science Cafés are events where, for the price of a glass of wine, anyone can meet to discuss the latest ideas of science that are impacting wine sector. They were planned to be an opportunity for both scientists and the community to understand each other’s perspective in a nonformal setting and provides an opportunity to increase science literacy. Wine Science Cafés generally occur in the last Thursday of each month and will take place in casual settings such as wine houses, restaurants, wine cellars and coffeehouses in Portugal (every two-months in Porto). A typical Wine Science Café format is approximately 90 minutes in duration and involves both expert speakers and a moderator. Speakers include both scientists and people of wine sector. The moderator introduces the Café concept, the topic and the speaker(s). Each speaker presents for 5–10 minutes without any visual aids. A 15-minute break is given to allow participants to eat something and drink a glass of wine and generate questions. The moderator then opens the discussion, mainly in a question-and-answer format. In table 1 you can find the topic and the invited speakers from the first six Wine Science Cafés.

Table 1. Wine Science Cafés promoted in Portugal.

The results from our six Wine Science Café reveal that this is a successful format to promote public engagement with wine science and to provide a forum for scientific inquiry for the general public. The reason for this success can be attributed to a few factors. The key to an effective knowledge-translation is for sure the informality and accessibility of these events, which have a non-competitive and friendly atmosphere that encourages the discussion. Wine Science Cafés are also inexpensive to, locally relevant, and attract a mixed audience. One of the main reasons of success is that there are reciprocal benefits to both the speakers and participants.
Our plans for the future of the Wine Science Cafés is to continue to invite attractive speakers to talk about emerging issues and to increase the interaction strengthen between Wine Science Cafes and its territorial context and move Wine Science Cafés outside of the big metropolitan cities. For example, to promote a Wine Science Café about grape harvest, during that season in a Quinta or about wine tourism in one place that have this kind of offer. We need to analyse the event periodicity to find the best one to keep and expand our audience. We will try to develop networks for both speakers and organizers in Europe.
In conclusion, Wine Science Cafés highlights are an effective platform to engage publics in dialogue about wine. Due to its interactive format, it was possible to obtain viewpoints that may not have been captured through other public engagement approaches.

Wine Science Cafés 1: The chemistry of Port Wine

Wine Science Cafés 2: Biodiversity

Wine Science Cafés 3: Port Wine Innovation

Wine Science Cafés 4: Methodologies for the replacement/reduction of sulfur dioxide use during winemaking

Wine Science Cafés 5: The influence of microbiome in the differentiation of vineyard terroir

Wine Science Cafés 6: Labels: can you judge a wine by its cover?

Posted by in Curiosities

Innovative technology using staves and micro-oxygenation and its impact on the phenolic composition and colour of the aged wine spirit

By Sara Canas

The ageing is a pivotal stage in the wine spirit’s production process, comprising several puzzling and interacting phenomena responsible for the changes on the beverage’s physicochemical characteristics, sensory fullness and high-quality plateau reached. These changes are closely related to the action of factors ruling the ageing process such as the ageing technology and the kind of wood used.
The ageing of wine spirit is traditionally performed in wooden barrels. Despite the high quality achieved, as a result of this technology’s optimisation through scientific research, it is a time-consuming and costly process, and the capital invested in wine spirit and wood is immobilised for several years. There is also loss of wine spirit by evaporation, and it involves the use of a large amount of a natural resource, the wood, whose availability is limited.
For these reasons, alternatives have been searched towards ageing sustainability, that is, an environmentally-friendly ageing process together with other economic and social benefits. Besides, diversification of agri-food products, including the wine spirit, is becoming increasingly important in the face of a global and more competitive market with more informed and demanding consumers. For sustainability and diversification to be successful, it is imperative to find innovative technologies.
In this context, three research projects were performed, giving promising results. From the last one (CENTRO-04-3928-FEDER-000001), the first scientific article was recently published in LWT - Food Science and Technology (2019, vol. 111, p. 260-269). The article is focused on the study of some features positively correlated with the aged wine spirit’s quality - total phenolic content, low molecular weight phenolic compounds contents and chromatic characteristics - acquired over the first six months of ageing through a new technology (micro-oxygenation combined with wood staves in 1000 L stainless steel tanks) and through the traditional one (250 L wooden barrels), using two different kinds of wood (Limousin oak and chestnut). The main outcomes evidence the strong influence of the ageing technology on such characteristics. Specifically, in this early phase of ageing, micro-oxygenation combined with staves showed better performance than the wooden barrels, allowing greater enrichment of the wine spirit in wood-derived phenolic compounds. Faster evolution of the chromatic characteristics (lower lightness, higher saturation and higher intensities of red, yellow and brown hues) was also observed in the wine spirits aged by this alternative technology. Such positive effects were more obvious in the essay’s modality involving the chestnut wood (Figure 1).

To learn more about this work:


Figure 1. Projection of the six-month aged wine spirits, phenolic composition and chromatic characteristics in the space defined by the two first principal components.
Gall – gallic acid; Syrg – syringic acid; Ellag – ellagic acid; Vanil – vanillin; Syrde – syringaldehyde; Cofde – coniferaldehyde; Sipde – sinapaldehyde; Umb – umbelliferone; Scop – scopoletin; L* - lightness; C* - saturation; a*, b* - chromaticity coordinates; A470 – absorbance at 470 nm. Experimental unit number (1-3).

Sara Canas

Researcher with Habilitation at National Institute for Agrarian and Veterinary Research (INIAV). Head of the Enology Laboratory.
Eligible Member of the Institute of Mediterranean Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (ICAAM)/University of Évora.
Habilitation in Food Engineering (2017), PhD in Food Engineering (2003), M.Sc. in Viticulture and Enology (1997), B.S. in Agronomy (1990) - University of Lisbon/Instituto Superior de Agronomia.
Since 2000, extensive work on the ageing of wine spirits, cooperage technology, wood used in Enology, phenolic composition, antioxidant activity, HPLC, development and validation of analytical methods, sensory analysis of wine spirits.
Leader of 4 research projects; Team member of 14 research projects; Supervisor of master’s thesis, graduate’s thesis and professional training (26); Lecturer of the Master in Viticulture and Enology Engineering - University of Lisbon/University of Porto; Lecturer of the Master in Viticulture and Enology - University of Évora; Lecturer of Food Engineering courses; Lecturer of several training courses; Lecturer of several conferences; Author/co-author of 4 books, 7 book chapters, 38 articles in international scientific journals, 8 articles in technical journals, and 52 communications in scientific meetings; Associate Editor of the scientific journal Ciência e Técnica Vitivinícola; Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Polyphenols, International Journal of Foods and Biosystems Engineering, and Wine Studies; Peer-reviewing for 18 international scientific journals; Member of Enology Experts Group and of the Economy and Law Experts Group of the Portuguese Comission of International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

Posted by in Viticulture