Describe your occupation and your daily activities that you love about this?
Iam a chemist who employs his analytical skills in the wine industry. To make wine, you start with grape juice, let the fermentation process begin and a few steps (and few months) later, you may have yourself a delicious alcoholic beverage, if you balanced all the flavors just right.. Conceptually, it’s very simple, but in reality, winemaking is an art that some people spend their lifetime perfecting.
What is the basic qualification required ?
Yet when you break it all down, winemaking is chemistry and microbiology as well. it’s essentially an R&D job in a beverage industry as an Enologist. It’s a great fit if you are thinking about what you can do with a chemistry degree.
What degrees did you pursue for a career in Wine ? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
I received my Bachelors degree in Agriculture Sciences from Bangalore, India, before coming to the U.S. and earning a Masters and Ph.D. in food science from The University of Georgia. In grad school, i studied the flavor chemistry of fresh tomatoes using various sensory techniques and analytical instrumentation.
As a post-doc in food chemistry at Cornell University, I found out about the job at Constellation Wines U.S. and applied. Although i didn’t study wine prior to landing the job, my training in basic plant physiology, food chemistry and analytical instrumentation prepared me well for the position.
What is your daily job like?
I researche the aroma and flavor of grapes and wines, as well as cork and other closures, oak barrels and adjuncts, and packaging materials. When an aroma or flavor issue arises with a wine product, i investigate it to determine the source of the stink, which could come from cork (haloanisoles), or from the yeast (sulfur compounds) or from the grape itself (methoxypyrazines). Iam also involved in tracking aroma compounds in grapes and following that through winemaking and storage. “Wine is a very dynamic medium and there is chemistry happening all the way from the vineyard to fermentation to barrel ageing to bottling and post-bottling storage, Each step along the way requires analytical support, and I and my colleagues are there to make sure it all happens so that the final product is of the highest quality.
On a day-to-day basis, Iam running analyses, doing literature searches, talking with winemakers and collaborators on projects, and performing instrument maintenance. Also I do some wine tasting to get a first-hand idea of what I am actually analyzing.”
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working with a great group of people here in R&D and the Constellation winemakers to gain a better understanding of the aroma and flavor chemistry of grapes and wines. Then we use that knowledge to improve and produce a superior product. I also enjoy the fact that my job allows me to keep regular hours so that I can spend time with his family (although he said grape crush time can be a different story).
What should aspirants do to prepare a career in Wine?
To chemists out there who are interested in building their career at a wine company, I recommend having a strong analytical chemistry background (an advanced degree in food science, analytical or natural products chemistry) and knowledge of the products that you hope to work with. But it would be good to also have a Plan B, since there exist only a handful of larger wine companies in the U.S. that have a fully functioning R&D department. A Ph.D. flavor chemist in the wine industry in the U.S. is a rare commodity. here are, however, very active academic research programs in the U.S. in this field, like at Cornell, U.C. Davis, Oregon State, Fresno State, Virginia Tech and others
Also, many of the major beverage producers (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) have active R&D departments.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in world travel, there are research institutes and universities in major wine producing countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Germany, Chile, South Africa, Italy, and Canada.