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Identification of Dialkylpyrazines Off-Flavors in Oak Wood

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journal contribution
posted on 29.08.2019, 15:34 by Svitlana Shinkaruk, Morgan Floch, Andréi Prida, Philippe Darriet, Alexandre Pons
Volatile extractive compounds from high-quality oak wood (Quercus sp.) are responsible for important pleasant olfactory notes, such as coconut, wood, vanilla, caramel, and spice. Recently, a new off-flavor reminiscent of rancid butter has been detected in oak wood. Using gas chromatography–olfactometry (GC-O) coupled to several detection modes, such as nitrogen-phosphorus detection (GC-O-NPD) or mass spectrometry (GC-O-MS) and multidimensional GC-O coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry, six compounds containing nitrogen atoms were identified. The volatiles were suggested to belong to 2,5-disubstituted pyrazines family, which was confirmed by comparison with synthetic reference compounds. For this purpose, symmetric and dissymmetric 2,5-dialkylpyrazines were prepared from methyl esters of corresponding aliphatic amino acids (Val, Leu, and Ile) by a three-step, one-pot reaction under mild reducing conditions. Organoleptic descriptors and odor detection thresholds were also determined, whereas a bacterial origin explaining these off-flavors was hypothesized.