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Shiraz discovery spicy news

By Dave Buchanan
There's no shortage of theories about why red wine tastes like, well, red wine. Terroir, vineyard management, grape clones, etc, etc, the list is as long as the number of voices expressing an opinion. However, leave it to researchers in Australia, which over the past decade or so has gained a bit of renown for the flood of (mostly) tasty shiraz coming from its vineyards, to discover what gives shiraz (also known as syrah) its distinctive peppery taste. According to a story by Chantal Rumble, reporting in the Aug. 1 Web edition of The Age" target+"_blank">, scientists in Australia late last year identified the single taste compound rotundone. It's thought this discovery will enable winemakers to custom-make wines for consumers' taste. "It's one of the biggest breakthroughs in red wine aroma chemistry in the past few decades," Rumble quotes Sakkie Pretorius, managing director of the Australian Wine Research Institute. "It's so exciting I can't sit in my own skin at the moment," Pretorius is quoted. The story goes on to say winemakers no longer will be at the mercy of luck and traditional fermentation methods to develop the characteristic shiraz flavors and instead can manipulate such factors as irrigation and leaf cover to develop the black fruit and black pepper taste characteristic of shiraz.