INVESTIGATION INTO MOUSY OFF-FLAVOR IN WINE USING GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY-MASS SPECTROMETRY WITH STIR BAR SORPTIVE EXTRACTION
Mousy off-flavor is one of the defects of microbial origin in wine. It is described as a particularly unpleasant defect reminiscent of rodent urine (a “dirty mouse cage”), and grilled foods such as popcorn, rice, crackers, and bread crust. Prior to the 2010s, mousiness was very uncommon but it has been becoming more frequent in recent years. It is often associated with an increase in pH as well as certain oenological practices, which tend to significantly decrease the use of sulfur dioxide.
Three major compounds, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (APY), 2-acetyltetrahydropyridine (ATHP) and 2-ethyltetrahydropyridine (ETHP), have been identified as responsible for mousiness in wines. A particularity of these compounds is that they are prone to tautomerism and can coexist in several forms. Moreover, the nitrogen atom in the heterocyclic ring can be protonated under specific conditions, i.e. with pH lower than pKa, inducing a positive charge and, as a consequence, an increase of polarity and a loss of volatility of the molecule.
To date quantification data reported in the literature are limited due to analytical issues related to the nature of these compounds. To fill the gap and later understand the parameters influencing mousiness, the objective of this study was to develop a simple and effective method to simultaneously determine trace levels of these three mousy N-heterocycles in wines. Therefore, a stir bar sorptive extraction (SBSE) followed by GC-MS analysis was developed (1).
Firstly, both previously reported tautomers of ATHP (2), 2-acetyl-1,4,5,6-tetrahydropyridine and 2-acetyl-3,4,5,6-tetrahydropyridine were identified, unlike to APY and ETHP. The extraction conditions were then optimized paying particular attention to the pH of the sample. The performance of the developed method was evaluated on white, rosé and red wines and the limits of detection and quantification of the method are lower than previously published concentrations in spoiled wine.
The method was then applied to provide quantitative data by analyzing 6 control wines and 68 wines produced without added sulfites. ETHP was detected in almost all wines produced with limited use of SO₂. ATHP was detected in almost all wines suspected of mousiness whereas APY was only detected in few cases. This method will provide a support for further studies aimed at understanding the phenomena that influence the occurrence of mousy off-flavor and the oenological parameters that modulate its expression.
Issue: OENO Macrowine 2023
Contact the author*
mousiness, N-heterocycles, quantiﬁcation, SBSE-GC-MS