229 Food Research Laboratory
My research and teaching interests are in understanding the enological and viticultural parameters that shape wine flavor from vine to bottle. I am actively involved in the development of the Research and Teaching components of the new Enology and Viticulture program at Cornell.
My research program is interested in using modern (2-D GC-MS, LC-MS) and classic analytical methods to characterize compounds of organoleptic importance to grapes, wines, and other foodstuffs from pre-harvest through production. 1) Factors Affecting the Aroma Potential of Winegrapes: The volatile fraction of wine contains thousands of compounds, of which ~100 are known to exist around or above their aroma threshold in wine. However, our knowledge of factors influencing the levels of grape-derived aroma compounds is still poor. Recent projects have included: - Understanding genetic, viticultural and enological factors controlling the synthesis and degradation of the herbaceous-smelling methoxypyrazines (MPs) - Defining key off-odorants in wild grape species - Determining effects of cultural practices on Riesling wine composition 2) Development of convenient analytical tools for use in winery settings and highly sensitive techniques for measuring trace volatile compounds. Recent projects have included: - Development of a convenient, inexpensive analytical technique for measuring elemental sulfur residues in wineries. - Rapid synthesis of dozens of isotopically labeled volatile standards for use in GC-MS analyses via degradation of a uniformally labeled substrate. - Optimization of GCxGC-TOF-MS for measurement of methoxypyrazines 3) Determining effects of processing on polyphenolic compounds in juice and wine. These phenolic constituents can affect both color and mouthfeel of wines and juices, but can also be readily. - Understanding factors affecting coprecipitation of anthocyanin pigments with potassium bitartrate. - Determining reasons for poor tannin extraction from interspecific hybrid grape varieities
Although I do not have a formal extension appointment, there is considerable overlap of my research and teaching interests with the practical problems of the statewide/regional wine and grape industries. Over the last 5 years, I have delivered nearly 30 extension presentations in 6 states at regional winemaking and grapegrowing workshops or industry technical conferences. I also participated in winemaker "roundtable" discussions and provided technical support to wineries through individual consultation. My outreach focus is to introduce non-technical audiences to current strengths and challenges of the New York State wine and grapes industries, and explain how flavor chemists can help address these problems. This has included developing material for high school educators to use in the classroom; presenting on the career opportunities in food science to undergraduate chemistry majors; and collaborating with chefs at the intersection of science and cooking.
My teaching interests are in analytical flavor chemistry, particularly with respect to grapes and wines. In the spring semester, I teach an upper level course for Cornell’s Viticulture and Enology majors, Wine & Grape Flavor Development (FDSC 4400 / VIEN 4400). The course considers the impact of both viticultural and enological processes on bioactive compounds in wines and grapes, especially those relating to flavor and color. Also in the spring, I co-instruct Understanding Wine and Beer (FDSC 4300 / VIEN 4300), an entry-level survey course that uses wine and beer as vehicles to introduce non-majors to flavor chemistry, sensory science, horticulture, and neurobiology. In the fall, I teach a course for VIEN sophomores and juniors (Wine and Grape Analyses, FDSC 2400 / VIEN 2400) which considers both practical and theoretical aspects of the most common analytical tools used in wine production. Finally, I am actively involved in the development of the curriculum for the new VIEN undergraduate major, minor, and MPS program. Viticulture and enology require a highly diverse set of skills (plant sciences; microbiology; chemistry; engineering; marketing; business management), and our program will provide students with the necessary breadth and depth in these areas.