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WSU’s Voice of the Vine- It’s Not All Talk, Around the World, VEEN

Posted by | April 30, 2014

White wine finish: It’s not all talk

WSU sensory scientists used time-intensity methods to measure how different flavors linger.
WSU sensory scientists used time-intensity methods to measure how different flavors linger.

Bringing science to conventional wisdom, a recently published study from Washington State University reveals how different flavors “finish,” or linger, on the palate after a sip of wine.

“A longer finish is associated with a higher quality wine, but what the finish is, of course, makes a huge difference,” said sensory scientist Carolyn Ross. The study, which is one of the first to look at how different flavor components finish when standing alone or interacting with other compounds in white wines, all started with a question from one of Ross’ students in a wine and food sensory science class.

“We were talking about flavor finish and which compounds finish later or earlier,” Ross explained. “I said, well, anecdotally, fruity flavors finish earlier while others, like steak or oak, finish later.”

In a recent article in the journal Food Quality and Preference, Ross writes how her team trained panelists to identify and measure fruity, floral, mushroom, and oaky (or coconut) compounds in wines. They found that, indeed, fruity flavor perception disappears from the palate earlier than oaky, floral, and earth flavors perception. They chose the fruity, floral, mushroom, and oaky compounds to reflect the diversity of the wine aroma wheel.

“There can be hundreds of different flavor compounds in wine,” said former graduate student and co-author, Emily Goodstein. “We wanted to ask: What finishes longer? Are these assumptions really supported? Can we back it up with some sensory data?” Read more.

Read more about the willingness to pay for Washington Chardonnays study at or the latest article on wine finish from Ross’ WSU Sensory Lab team at, which will be in print September 2014. 

– Rachel Webber

Postcards from Colin

The vineyard where I've been working for the last few months.
The vineyard where I’ve been working for the last few months.

Earlier this year we featured, Colin Hickey, a WSU student who helped kickstart the WSU Blended Learning label, then jumped the Atlantic to begin a journey with the Congress-Budestag Youth Exchange program for Young Professionals last July (read story). This month we received word on his latest internship at a winery in Germany: 

Greetings from Bodenheim, Germany! I am almost into my third month here at Weingut Martinshof under Familia Acker. I have had extensive experience so far working mostly in the vineyard, working the bottling line, and labeling. Vineyard work in general has entailed pruning, trellising, row maintenance (wires, wooden end posts, metal middle posts, vine stakes, rubber banding), and removal of old/dead vines and their rows. Thilo, the head winemaker, uses Pendelbogen and Flachbogen trellising systems, mainly to impart quality over quantity in his product.

All of the pruning and trellising is done by hand in a more traditional approach to wine. Varietals that Thilo grows include, but are not limited to, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris/Grigio), Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Riesling, Müller Thurgau, Dornfelder, Gold Muskat, Secco (sparkling wine made in Germany using the Italian method), and Chardonnay.

Hiking through the Alps on a trip through Switzerland.
Hiking through the Alps on a trip through Switzerland.

My work on the bottling line has included placing clean, empty bottles on the line, as well as receiving filled bottles and placing them in crates to be labeled later. Throughout this process, constant maintenance of the machinery, refilling of the screw cap dispenser, and coordination with my coworkers was also happening.

There are many moving parts into this process, as the empty bottles are sanitized, filled, injected with CO2, and sealed. Sadly, we don’t use any corks for our wine as most winemakers in the area are moving away from this approach – mainly because of cost and availability of resources. Labeling entails inserting filled, sealed bottles to be cleaned again, glued, and labeled. Finished bottles are then boxed to be later sold to customers.

Gummi Steiflen, or work boots. Only 45 Euro. I've got a lot of use out of these bad boys.
Gummi Steiflen, or work boots. Only 45 Euro. I’ve got a lot of use out of these bad boys.

Weingut Martinshof is mostly managed privately, meaning that most of their wine (95%) is sold privately to returning customers throughout the year.

I will be working here until the end of June, and there is always a lot of work to be done. It is demanding work, but very rewarding. I am given lunch every day and sometimes come home with a bottle or two of our recently bottled wine. I have learned an insane amount in the past two months, and I can’t wait to see what the next two have in store for me.

You can get in touch with Colin at

Snapshots from Australia

As a part of continuing education programs with WSU Viticulture and Enology, more than 20 participants joined director Thomas Henick-Kling on an incredible vineyard and winery tour down under March 30-April 15. Here are a few snapshots from the recent journey through Australia’s wine country:P1-9

  1. Breaking the cap at d’Arenberg winery. A rise of carbon dioxide causes a thick layer of grape skins to build. While it’s often broken with an industrial tool, sometimes boots come in handy, too.
  2. A visit to Morilla Estate with winemaker Conor van der Reest, a young Canadian winemaker from Brock University. The estate also included a visit of the Museum of Old and Modern art, an eclectic collection of Egyptian and diverse modern art.
  3. Snack time. The group had a chance to feed emu, kangaroos, and wallabies at the Cleland Wild Animal Park.
  4. Theresa Beaver, coordinator for the tour and for viticulture and enology certificate programs, presents a thank you bottle of Washington wine to Conor van der Reest.
  5. Overlooking Spring Vale Vineyards with a view to Freycinet Peninsula. Spring Vale was just one 23 wineries and vineyards on the itinerary.
  6. A bright spread of fish and beet chips, garnished with parsley.
  7. The group, which represented about six states from the U.S., at Wine Glass bay, Freycinet Peninsula, NE Tasmania.
  8. At Wirra Wirra, a larger than life wine bottle made of corks stands outside the winery.
  9. A trip along the Great Ocean Road on which the Twelve Apostles stand. Here, participants Randy and Laura Halter walk on the beach. One of the Twelve Apostles is seen in the distance.

The WSU Viticulture and Enology program is currently planning the 2015 trip to Southern France. Stay tuned for more details at

Celebrating 100 Years of Extension

Thomas Henick-Kling talks about the importance of science in the growing and making of a great glass of wine.
Thomas Henick-Kling talks about the importance of science in the growing and making of a great glass of wine.

“Plant a vineyard and open a winery. It will be historic.”

Those were the words of Don Tapio, a WSU County Extension Agent. He said them to Blain and Kim Roberts in April of 2007. By March 29, 2008, the Roberts had opened Westport Winery. It was the first in Grays Harbor, and the western-most vineyard in the state. It is also Wine Press Northwest’s 2011 “Winery to Watch.”

So begins the narrative that Kim Roberts submitted to the Voices of Extension Story Project — part of the yearlong celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Extension.

WSU Extension is asking students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to share their experiences of how Extension programs, services and people have enriched their lives. The goal is to collect 100 stories. To read other stories or to submit your own, visit

Spring edition of VEEN now available

Spring is finally here. Irrigation is set for full allotment this summer, buds are swelling, vines are bleeding, and the inevitable vineyard-tripping-due-to-badger-holes has commenced. It is good to shake off that winter dormancy.VEEN

This issue of VEEN is an eclectic mix of rules and research, theory and practice. Washington’s grape quarantines are explained and a highlight of how the Clean Plant Center-Northwest is keeping our Foundation Grapes clean is presented. Canopy management and mite resistance management research by two recent graduates are discussed, as well as ground-breaking information on how “native” yeasts can be put to good use in the vineyard. Weather from 2013 is explained and questions on irrigating different soils are answered. We also have part one of a two-part series on fruit and wine acidity. Read all about it, here.