or urethanes

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

carbamates or urethanes, relatively simple organic compounds found in very low concentrations in some foods and wines. Ethyl carbamate, or ethyl urethane, is a naturally occurring component of all fermented foods and beverages. In the case of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, ethyl carbamate is formed by the reaction between ethanol and urea, which in turn is produced by the degradation of the amino acid arginine, one of the main nitrogen sources in grape juice and musts. In the late 1980s, ethyl carbamate was added to the growing list of compounds suspected of human carcinogenicity on the basis of animal tests.