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Ever wondered why bag-in-box wine doesn’t taste quite as good as wine from a glass bottle? French researchers at the Joint Research Unit for Agropolymer Engineering and Emerging Technologies (UMR IATE) may have the answer. UMR IATE has found that wine loses key flavour and aroma compounds to plastic packaging as it ages.
“The material in contact with wine is known to interact with aroma compounds,” says Pascale Chalier, lead author of the of the UMR IATE study. “These phenomena could induce losses and modify the aromatic profile.” The phenomena is known as ‘flavour scalping’ – the gradual reduction of flavour over time as compounds interact with packaging.
The UMR IATE findings reflect the results of a 2009 study by researchers at Brock University (Canada) and the University of Athens (Greece). Over 18 months the team measured the level of odour compounds for two wines in different types of packaging. The study found that the number of compounds decreased by between 26 and 45% over an 18-month period. The biggest changes were noted in wines stored in Tetrapak containers. Similar levels of flavour loss were noted in wines closed with synthetic corks, compared to natural cork and screw-tops.
Unlike other materials, glass is chemically inert; it does not alter the taste of its contents and has no reaction to the food or drink it contains, nor will it affect the level of aroma compounds in the wine. Aroma compounds are incredibly important to our enjoyment of wine. That’s why wine glass are designed to taper towards the top, allowing the aroma of the wine to collect and concentrate in this area. Experts believe that balloon- or tulip-shaped wine glasses provide the best sensory experience.
At the Friends of Glass, we’re interested to hear about your experiences. Do you notice a difference in taste between wine packaged in glass bottles and wine in other types of packaging? Which types of wine glasses help to enhance the taste of your favourite tipple? Why not share your thoughts through the Friends of Glass Facebook page or tweet us at @FriendsofGlass.