Flavour Scalping

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

flavour scalping, refers to the partial absorption from wine of some aroma and flavour compounds by wine bottle closures and other types of packaging material (such as the bladders used in wine boxes) during storage. This process mostly affects wine components that are the least soluble in water. Various flavour-scalping studies of sensorially relevant compounds in wine, some looking at changes in the same wines over several years, have shown that some compounds are not significantly scalped by any closures, while other compounds can be scalped by up to 98% depending on the closure type. The extent of absorption is a function of time in the bottle or other package and the sorptive capacity of the closure, with some synthetic closures having a much greater sorptive capacity than natural bark corks or technical closures made of processed cork bark. screwcaps have little or no sorptive capacity. Bottles sealed with a particular closure will exhibit little bottle-to-bottle variation in this phenomenon. Flavour scalping does not necessarily diminish wine quality since some wine components can have an unfavourable impact on wine aroma; it does not affect all wines equally and, indeed, will not affect many wines at all.