The flavor of table grapes, influenced by various volatile compounds, plays a significant role in consumer preference and marketability. Traditional flavor analysis methods often fail to capture the complexity and diversity of grape flavors, especially in hybrid varieties. Conventional flavor classifications like muscat and foxy are insufficient for describing the wide range of flavors in modern grape cultivars. Due to these challenges, there is a need for in-depth research to comprehensively analyze and categorize the diverse flavor profiles of table grapes, aiding in the development of superior grape varieties with enhanced flavor qualities.

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba and the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) in Japan have made significant strides in this area. Their , published in the prestigious journal on February 26, 2024, reveal a comprehensive analysis of the volatile compounds in table grapes, shedding light on the factors that influence their flavor.

The study analyzed the flavors and volatile compounds of 38 grape cultivars using sensory evaluation and solvent-assisted flavour evaporation (SAFE), a technique that effectively recovers trace and high-boiling-point compounds at low temperatures. Researchers characterized the cultivars and grouped them into seven clusters based on sensory data, highlighting the flavor diversity of table grapes. The SAFE method provided comprehensive profiles of volatile compounds, including α-pinene, β-pinene, phenylethyl alcohol, furaneol, mesifurane, methyl N-formylanthranilate, and mixed ethyl ester and monoterpenoid, which contribute to flavors such as fresh green, floral, fruity, fatty green, sweet, and fermented/sour. The study identified novel flavor-associated compound profiles in table grapes through multivariate analysis, revealing specific accumulations and combinations of compounds that enhance flavor intensity and diversity. This research offers a deeper understanding of the chemical basis of grape flavors, potentially guiding breeding and cultivation practices to improve the flavor quality of table grapes.

Dr. Sumiko Sugaya, the corresponding author, stated, "This study provides valuable insights into the complex flavor profiles of table grapes. By identifying the specific volatile compounds responsible for different flavors, we can better understand how to cultivate and breed grape varieties with enhanced flavor qualities. This research not only benefits grape producers but also helps consumers enjoy a richer and more diverse flavor experience."

The implications of this research are far-reaching, offering a roadmap for breeders to develop new grape cultivars with tailored flavors. Additionally, these findings could revolutionize the wine and food industries by providing a scientific basis for enhancing the flavor profiles of their products.

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This research was supported by grants from the Project of the Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution, NARO (special scheme project on advanced research and development for next-generation technology) and the project ‘Support for Pioneering Research Initiated by the Next Generation (SPRING)’ (grant no. JPMJSP2124) commissioned by Japan Science and Technology Agency.

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is an open access journal of Nanjing Agricultural University and ranked number one in the Horticulture category of the Journal Citation Reports ™ from Clarivate, 2022. The journal is committed to publishing original research articles, reviews, perspectives, comments, correspondence articles and letters to the editor related to all major horticultural plants and disciplines, including biotechnology, breeding, cellular and molecular biology, evolution, genetics, inter-species interactions, physiology, and the origination and domestication of crops.

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