Course Profile: VEN 123 with Professor Andy Waterhouse

Dr. Waterhouse in class.
Dr. Waterhouse in class.

Read what Dr. Andy Waterhouse has to say about VEN 123, or 
Analysis of Musts and Wine: 

Using an automated pipet is second nature to students familiar with lab work, but a mystery to many in VEN 123. We start with the basics and work our way up to discussing NIR. While the students are learning to run the typical methods used in grape and wine analysis, the primary goal of the course is to have students learn how to evaluate the quality of analytical methods. As future enologists and winemakers, they will not only have to know how to run specific procedures to measure components of juice and wine, but they must be able to assess the quality of the data they are creating or interpreting. Consequently, the tests and lab reports emphasize the need to evaluate the accuracy and precision of data, two foundational factors in the value of analytical data. 

LabThe range of methods that we address include specific types widely used in juice and wine analysis, and include physical methods (hydrometer, refractometer), titrations (titratable acid, SO2), colorimetric methods (NOPA, Folin), chromatography (ethanol and phenolics), NIR (ethanol), enzymatic procedures (residual sugar), atomic absorbance/emission (potassium and copper), and some colorimetry. In the laboratory we have one session where the goal is to evaluate a new method for wine analysis. Selecting this procedure was tricky because it had to be very fast as the students would have to plan how to evaluate it, get data and have time to get another dataset if something didnt go as planned, all in 3 hours. Ana Peterson, lab instructor, worked out the procedure that the students used very successfully last year for the first time, and they used the method to assess iron speciation by spectral analysis. 

Another skill we expose students to is evaluating published data by writing a short paper about wine analysis. They have to find appropriate primary sources of data from the scientific literature and present a paper on the analysis and levels of an assigned substance/s such as copper or smoke volatiles. Finding data is usually not the issue, but the challenge is organizing the data into useful and readable information. 

This course addresses the analysis of musts and wines and is taken by both BS and MS students studying Viticulture and Enology, along with a few others, so we have about 55 students each year. It includes a laboratory that is separate from the lecture. It has been offered in various forms for over 40 years and was taught for nearly 20 years by Professor Susan Ebeler, until 2013. 

The goals of the course have been discussed with a number of winemakers and lab managers to see if there were some skills or areas of expertise that we might add. We have always had the students adopt safe practices in the lab (they cannot work without lab coats and safety glasses, etc.), but in response to concerns about knowledge of basic safety issues we implemented a homework with safety questions. We are always interested if you have any feedback on new skills or knowledge you think would benefit our students in their careers.