How Spectrophotometers Are Used for Wine Analysis: The Importance of Color Measurement in Winery Labs

Last weekend the weather was just perfect for taking a country drive, so we gathered some of our closest friends together and took a tour of the beautiful wine country the lies just beyond our backyard. I don’t consider myself a wine connoisseur, but I do enjoy a good glass with friends on a beautiful day. Most of wineries we visited enjoyed sharing their philosophies on wine analysis, which involved many complex processes to create the perfect bottle of wine. My own philosophy of wine analysis starts with color and ends with taste, but wine development is much more complex and relies on extensive monitoring of spectral data and analysis for quality and production.

glass of wine analysis
Color is an important element of quality in wine and can vary greatly depending on harvesting, variety, fermentation, and aging.
Image Source: Flickr user Omar G!

The role of spectrophotometers in winery labs

Spectrophotometers play an important role in wine analysis and are an essential tool for any wine processing lab. Using light absorption measurements, spectral data can be used to predict the various stages of fermentation. Spectrophotometers are used in wine analysis to perform assays on acetic acid, L-malic acid, and residual reducing sugars. These measurements are used to regulate the ‘dryness’ of the wine and consistently monitor the fermentation process, which allows for changes to be made as needed. According to Wine Business Monthly, “Sample volumes spike during the season, and having the ability to perform the analyses ‘in-house’ is a real cost saver. Even the smallest winery will praise the benefits [spectrophotometers] can provide. The ability to perform your own analysis and obtain results within minutes saves time, money and preserves wine quality.”

wine bottles wine analysis
Regardless of the size or scale of the winery, spectrophotometers are a necessary tool for producing quality wine while saving time and money.
Image Source: Flickr user Peter Dutton

Advantages of portable and bench-top spectrophotometers

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Many wineries have relied on large and expensive instrumentation in the past to obtain wine analysis readings, or they have sent their samples to testing facilities in order to obtain accurate results. This option was expensive and time-consuming. However, today’s spectrophotometer options are more affordable and equipped to analyze and quantify data on the spot. These bench-top spectrophotometers consist of no more than a small shoebox-sized piece of equipment that that can be readily used in any area of the processing facility. This has led to a breakthrough in the wine industry, where competition and quality go hand in hand. No matter the size of a winery, each processing facility must have the proper instrumentation to monitor wine analysis throughout every stage of the wine making process.

grape vine wine analysis
Portable and bench-top spectrophotometers provide accuracy and flexibility in color measurement analysis throughout every stage of wine development.
Image Source: Flickr user picdrops

Of course wine analysis would not be complete without a consideration for flavor. UV-Spectrophotometers have the ability to distinguish different phenolic components in wines. Phenols are the main source of flavonoids, and contribute to the body and structure of the wine. For quality and superiority, quantification of phenols is essential in analysis. UV-Spectrophotometers provide the ability to accurately measure phenol levels without interfering with the integrity of wine or changing its composition. This process begins with the grape itself and entails consistent monitoring through the entire processing phases until it is bottled for sale. Portable and bench-top spectrophotometers offer accuracy and flexibility in wine analysis at an affordable price.

Weighing the options

Spectrophotometers are a wise investment in wine analysis laboratories, and Wine Business Monthly offers some basic guidelines when choosing instrumentation:

  • Look for an instrument, operating system, and software that are user-friendly and easy to upgrade.
  • Know the level of accuracy you expect. The more sophisticated the system, the higher the level of accuracy and repeatability.
  • Moving into a broader array of assays from your basic palette may require a longer range of wavelengths and multi-beam capability.
  • Consider both your current needs and future needs. You may want an instrument that can be expanded for future analysis or has add-on modules to increase throughput.
  • Meet with your winemaking/laboratory staff to discuss ideas and options.
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At HunterLab we offer highly accurate and easy to use instrumentation for all your color measurement and wine analysis needs. Our products are simple to use and backed by our promise of exceptional customer support. With many choices that have been developed to meet a variety of budgets and needs, HunterLab’s friendly staff is available to help you choose the right equipment for the job. Contact HunterLab to learn more about the advantages of spectrophotometers in the wine making industry.

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