My research and teaching interests are centered on defining the enological and viticultural parameters that shape wine flavor from vine to bottle. I am also actively involved in the development of the new undergraduate major in Enology and Viticulture (VIEN) at Cornell.
Research in the Sacks lab is generally focused around understanding factors affect organoleptic qualities of wines and grapes from viticultural, biochemical, and chemosensory perspectives, as well as developing analytical tools to facilitate these studies. Our ultimate goals are to provide growers, juice producers, and winemakers with knowledge of how their decisions will affect eventual wine and juice attributes. Ongoing projects include: • Understanding factors that influence synthesis and degradation of the herbaceous smelling alkylmethoxypyrazines (MPs) in winegrapes from both empirical and biochemical standpoints • Characterizing key odorants responsible for the distinctiveness of cool-climate varietal wines, such as Riesling and interspecific hybrids • Exploring the impact of novel production strategies on fruit juice qualities (e.g. aroma, color), especially on Concord grape juice • Developing novel applications of comprehensive two dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC) for studies on trace compounds in complex matrices • In collaboration with grape geneticists, correlating grape volatile phenotype with genotype • Developing inexpensive and simple tools for quantifying elemental sulfur residues on grapes and tracking its fate during the growing season and vinification.
I am actively involved with the Enology and Viticulture Teaching Steering Committee in the development and evaluation of the new VIEN undergraduate major. I am also responsible for teaching several courses in the VIEN major, including Wine and Grape Flavor Development (VIEN 4400 / FDSC 4400). Uses a (bio)-chemical perspective to investigate viticulture and enological factors that impact flavor and other quality attributes (mouthfeel, color, stability) of wine and wine grapes. Spring. 3 credits. Wines and Grapes: Composition Analysis (VIEN 2400 / FDSC 2400). Investigates the composition of grapes and wine and the most common analytical tools used in their evaluation. Both theoretical and practical aspects of grape and wine analyses are considered. Fall. 2 credits. Understanding Wine and Beer (FDSC 4300). Co-taught with three other FDSC faculty. An introduction to wine and beer appreciation that uses fermentation biology, wine and beer composition, and sensory perception to explore the role of science and technology in the production and enjoyment of food. Spring. 3 credits.