Mead fermentation monitoring by proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry and medium infrared probe
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Mead is a traditional alcoholic beverage similar to wine, but obtained by the fermentation of a diluted solution of honey. The rate of fermentation is generally monitored by the measurement of a set of physicochemical variables such as pH, titratable acidity, Brix degrees, sugars and ethanol concentration. This work aims at developing a new monitoring method for alcoholic fermentations that is based on two on-line approaches: a proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) and a fibre optic coupled attenuated total reflection (FTIR-ATR) spectroscopy. Microfermentations are performed on 100 mL musts in isothermal conditions at 20 °C. Musts consist on diluted honey solutions (24 Bx) with pollen (0.4 % w/v) and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae subsp. bayanus). The effect of flavour enhancers [chilli (Capsicum annuum), clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) and a mixture of both] on the rate of fermentation was also evaluated. The results show that clove inhibits fermentation, whereas chilli increases the rate of fermentation. PTR-MS and FTIR-ATR are simple, fast and nondestructive techniques able to monitor the fermentation process without the need of sample preparation, extraction or pre-concentration steps.