What is rotundone?

A. The name of the racking system used to barrel-ferment Cabernet Sauvignon by rotating the barrels on mechanical arms

B. The compound that makes some wines taste peppery

C. The process of training vines in a round, wreath-like circle to prevent the clusters from being damaged by severe wind

D. A type of oak barrel with an especially deep bilge for lots of lees contact


Rotundone (row-TON-dohn) is the compound that accounts for the peppery flavor often found in the Syrahs of France’s Rhône Valley and the Shirazes of Australia. The compound exists in black and white pepper, as well as in marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, and geranium.  It can also be found in grapes themselves and survives the fermentation process. Although most often associated with Syrah, rotundone can also occasionally be found in Pinot Noir, Gamay, Durif, Schioppettino and the white grape Grüner Veltliner, among others. The compound was discovered by the Australian Wine Research Institute in 2005.

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