Thursday, January 23, 2020

The wonder of grapes

Are you amazed at the complexity of grapes? I am. To my knowledge there is no other fruit than can do what grapes can do: A grape can taste like hundreds of other fruits and vegetables and herbs. I've been searching for a word that decscribes this ability: The best word might be "mimicry."

Mimicry: The close external resemblance of an animal or plant (or part of one) to another animal, plant, or inanimate object.

I'm not sure that a Cab Franc grape's aroma only has a "close resemblance" to green bell pepper's aroma. I think it is the SAME aroma, made by the same chemical compounds (specifically, one of the pyrazines). This is why I'm still searching for the right word. Might have to invent one.

Getting back to the incredible complexity of grapes: This article in Nature describes how we are slowly unraveling the specific genetic basis for the vast array of grape aromas. Check this out from the article:

"The predominate compounds contributing to the aroma profile of grape berries fall into the following categories: mono- and sesquiterpenes, methoxypyrazines, furan derivatives, lipoxygenase pathway products, and phenylpropanoid pathway products... During winemaking and subsequent aging processes, volatile compounds and their precursors can undergo enzyme-catalyzed modifications and spontaneous chemical transformations. "

Each of those families of aromatic chemicals contains many specific chemicals that can be discerned by our olfactory systems (noses). 

Help me come up with this word! Join me in admiring this ability of grapes. Does this mean the grape is the most-advanced fruit on our world, given that a fruiting plant's goal is to make the best-tasting fruit, in order to induce an animal to eat the fruit and then poop out the remains of it elsewhere, thereby spreading the seeds and helping the grape survive via new offspring?


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