October 13, 2014
Image of Malvidin

October 15 is National Red Wine Day. So what better molecule to celebrate than malvidin, the compound that is primarily responsible for the color of red wine?

Malvidin is actually a cationic species; its most common counterion is chloride. It was first identified in wild malve (Malva sylvestris) by R. Willstätter and W. Mieg in 1915. Malvidin and the color mauve get their names from this herb.

In 2010, H. Barnard and colleagues at several institutions used malvidin to identify a 6000-year-old wine production facility­­­, the oldest found to that date. Working with wine-soaked potsherds (pottery fragments) from a site in Armenia, they used the combination of liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectroscopy to identify residual malvidin. This finding, along with the presence of grape remains and a crude wine press, convinced the authors that the location contained an ancient winery.

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