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Wine scientists discover appellation ‘chemical fingerprint’

Two forensic scientists at the University of Western Australia have found a way to prove the origin of wine chemically.

Alex Martin and John Watling used mass spectrometry to determine the chemical ‘fingerprint’ of 400 wines from around Australia.

The ‘fingerprint’ is made up of the concentration of over 60 trace elements. These depend mainly on the soil composition of the growing region and grape variety. It changes little during winemaking, transportation and storage.

Wines made from one grape variety in one region have similar chemical ‘fingerprints’, and are quite different to those of the same grape variety in other regions.

They are now building up a database of wines from around the world. Once completed it will be possible to identify the origin of an unknown wine sample by comparing its fingerprint to those in the database.

‘We aim to reliably place a wine within 20km of its origin,’ said Watling.

Written by Frank Smith

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