What’s Inside #WineWednesday: Ethyl Hexanoate

Ethyl methanoate, ethyl butanoate, ethyl pentanoate, ethyl octanoate… the list goes on and on into words that may become more and more anxiety-inducing.


Don’t be intimidated by the hard-science terms we’re throwing at you every Wednesday. Think of the names of these molecules the way you think of yoga poses: You went to your first class and tried to do a peacock pose. All you knew that day was, it’s nicknamed the peacock and it’s such a challenge. But, the more often you practice, the better you get, and the more you will start to recognize the peacock pose not by its nickname, but by its given name: mayurasana. All of the sudden you’ll feel more like an experienced yogi — you really know what you’re doing. We’re here to give you the tools to understand the reasons you are tasting and smelling what you taste and smell in the wines you love.

Facing the Science

The list of molecules up at the top? Those contribute to the overall experience of your wine by adding aroma and taste molecules to your glass. From the smell of glue to the smell of cinnamon, from apples to cardamom, sommeliers and Friday night wine drinkers alike determine if their glass is full of pineapples or plums by identifying which ethyl molecules are present.

“Sweet,” “fruity,” and “nutty,” don’t taste that way simply because they are. Your taste-buds communicate those sensations because they meet a mix of flavor and aroma molecules. We’re here to show you these molecules (ingredients) are the exact same molecules in your chewing gum, your summer day fruit salad, and the wine made from grapes.

So, what’s in #WineWednesday:

Chemical Name: Ethyl Hexanoate
Class: Esters
Smell: Fruity — pineapples
Color: Colorless

Uses: Ethyl hexanoate is used namely as an aroma compound to create a fruity, irresistible smell. And because smell and taste are intrinsically linked, you can also find ethyl hexanoate used in tropical flavors.

Where it’s found in nature: Ethyl hexanoate can be found naturally in beer and wine, apples and oranges, as well as butter and bread — and that is just to name a few. It’s also used as a fragrance molecule to create apple, grape, kiwi, papaya, rose, strawberry, and (of course) wine scented things.

So, What’s the Difference Between This Ethyl and the Last One We Wrote About?

There are subtle differences between ethyl hexanoate and ethyl butanoate (and the ethyls we have yet to feature). Differences you will most easily notice are that if there is more ethyl butanoate in something you smell or taste, it will tend to give off a sweet apple-banana flavor; more ethyl hexanoate will lead you to more of a sweet pineapple-brandy scented experience. Ethyl hexanoate is somewhat more powerful, so it contributes to that feeling in the back of your throat when you take a big whiff of good wine.

Uses in Product Goods: Who can ever get enough of the fruity-goodness scents that transport you to a childhood candy or a tropical island? Because of how popular these kinds of smells and flavors are, ethyl hexanoate is used in everything from tutti-fruitti baked goods and chewing gums to fruit ices and candy. Juicy fruit, jams, and jellies — ethyl hexanoate reigns supreme in them all.