Hometown: Maple Grove, MN
Degree Pursuing: Master's in Food Science and Minor in Statistics
Adviser: Zata Vickers
Research focus: Descriptive analysis of Frontenac gris and Brianna wine grape and wine varieties
Interest in producing cold-hardy wine grape cultivars has developed over the past few years, and Frontenac gris and Brianna are two such cultivars that have recently been released by the University of Minnesota breeding program. The first objective of this study was to describe the aroma and flavor attributes of Frontenac gris and Brianna wine grapes and wine and to determine how the ripening process affects changes in sensory attributes of the grapes and their respective wines. The second objective was to develop a set of descriptors that define aromas and flavors common to Frontenac gris and to determine whether each of these descriptors are perceived in a majority of Frontenac gris wines.
For the first objective, wine grapes and wine from one winery were evaluated over different harvest dates. For the second objective, 19 Frontenac gris wines from various wineries were evaluated. For both objectives, members of the trained panel from the Sensory Center at the University of Minnesota learned a standardized technique to taste wine grapes and/or wine and developed a lexicon of flavors and aromas occurring in these grapes and wines. Panelists participated in testing sessions during which they rated the intensity of the attributes.
For the first objective, as Brianna grapes ripened, they increased in fermented fruit, artificial grape, and sweetness attributes, and decreased in sourness, bitterness, citrus flavor, and green apple attributes. The following attributes increased in intensity with progressively later harvest dates for Brianna wine: mushroom, soy sauce, sauerkraut, corned beef, and sweetness. The following attributes decreased in intensity with progressively later harvest dates for Brianna wine: sourness, fresh raspberry, fresh grapefruit, and green apple. As Frontenac gris grapes ripened, the grapes decreased in the dried grape flavor attribute. For Frontenac gris wine, there were no significant increases or decreases in the intensity of any of the attributes over different harvest dates.
For the second objective, attributes found to be common to Frontenac gris were dried apricot aroma/flavor, dried cherry aroma/flavor, citrus fruit aroma/flavor, dried fruit aroma/flavor, fresh strawberry aroma/flavor, green wood aroma/flavor, fresh green flavor, canned peach aroma, and canned pineapple flavor.
Paired with information about the chemical maturity of the Frontenac gris and Brianna grapes, this knowledge will improve determination of the ideal maturity of the wine grapes for maximizing the overall quality of these wines. Also, paired with information about location, yeast, residual sugar, and alcohol percentage, wineries can decide which of the common attributes of Frontenac gris they want to be dominant in their wines.
How did you become interested in food science?
As an undergraduate I was originally studying chemistry at a different University. However, I was finding that it was not the perfect fit for me. A friend's dad told me about food science and, after doing research, instantly fell in love. I learned how great the program was at the University of Minnesota so I transferred here and have loved it ever since!
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
I chose the University of Minnesota because of the prestigious food science program. Also, I loved how close it was to my home town, friends, and family.
How does your research tie in to the research being done in your adviser's lab?
My research on cold climate white wines was the final part of a grant that Zata had been working on for a few years. As an undergraduate, I worked at the Sensory Center for Emily Del Bell, who studied cold climate red wines. I loved working on that project and after getting offered to work on a similar study, but with white wines, I couldn't resist.
As I quickly approach graduation in a little over a month, I am currently looking for employment with a company where I can continue my sensory food science studies in the industry. I also love food quality and safety and would love to work in that area of food science as well.