First quantification of glut-3SH-SO3 and glut-3SH-al in juice and wine

3-Sulfanylhexan-1-ol (3SH) is a key impact odorant of white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc.[1] In particular, the varietal characters of Sauvignon Blanc, especially from Marlborough New Zealand, are strongly influenced by the concentrations of 3SH.[2,3] Although only trace levels of 3SH are needed to impart perceptible aroma characters of passionfruit and grapefruit, the biogenesis of this compound during fermentation is not yet fully understood.[1,4] The polyfunctional varietal thiols can be produced during fermentation by metabolism of non-volatile precursors such as glutathione and cysteine conjugates of 3SH, however the routes by which these precursors are metabolised are complex, and not fully elucidated.[4]

One precursor of particular interest is the glutathione conjugate to the aldehyde form of 3SH, 3S-glutathionylhexanal (glut-3SH-al). The presence of the aldehyde functional group drastically changes the reactivity of the precursor in wine-like systems. Recent work by this group has shown that this compound can exist as tautomers in solution, suggesting possible new reaction pathways for the metabolism of glut-3SH-al. Additionally, the bisulfite adduct of glut-3SH-al (glut-3SH-SO3) has been identified in wine samples.[5,6] The interconversion of glut-3SH-al and glut-3SH-SO3 is of great interest as this equilibrium will be influenced by the concentrations of both glut-3SH-al and free SO2 in the sample. As such, it is thought that glut-3SH-SO3 may exist in finished wines as a potential reservoir for the release of 3SH which could extend the life of the fruity characters which are so desirable in young white wines.[6]

A method for the extraction and quantification of glut-3SH-al and glut-3SH-SO3 has been developed, using previously synthesised deuterated analogues of these compounds to ensure reliable quantification.[7] The compounds are separated using solid phase extraction (SPE), followed by oxime derivatisation and MRM analysis on an LC-QqQ. This method has been validated using standard addition of synthetic glut-3SH-al and was found to be linear up to 1000 ppb.

Using this method, we have analysed the glut-3SH-al and glut-3SH-SO3 content of laboratory scale synthetic grape media samples before, during, and after fermentation, as well as a selection of commercial wines and grape juices. With the SPE and LC-QqQ analysis described here, the glut-3SH-al and glut-3SH-SO3 content of a wide range of grape derived samples can be measured, a valuable piece of the puzzle in elucidating 3SH biogenesis.

Authors: Jennifer Muhl – School of Chemical Sciences, The University of Auckland,Lisa PILKINGTON, School of Chemical Sciences, The University of Auckland  Bruno FEDRIZZI, School of Chemical Sciences, The University of Auckland  Rebecca DEED, School of Chemical Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Auckland 


Keywords:  3-sulfanylhexan-1-ol, Aroma Precursors, Analytical Method, Isotopic Labelling, LC-MS/MS

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