Southern Nevada Section

Local Section Meeting


Presented by:  J. Ernest Simpson,

Professor, California State Polytechnic University


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5:30 PM Reception and Refreshments, 6:00 PM Presentation

7515 S. Cameron St

Las Vegas, NV 89139



J. Ernest Simpson

Biographical:  Dr. Simpson joined the Chemistry Department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in 1968 after completing his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. (organic chemistry) at the University of New Mexico and spending one year as a visiting chemistry professor at Pomona College. In 1973-74 he was on leave as visiting research associate in the Department of Enology and Viticulture at UC/Davis. He is an active member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture and has served on the editorial review board committee for the society's journal. He has published a California wine guide. He is a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the American Wine Society. At Cal Poly he has developed industrial chemistry and cooperative education courses/programs. He was the Director of Cooperative Education for Cal Poly (1980-2001). His research interests and publications are in the areas of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Carbon-13-labeled compounds, and phenolic compounds, especially in grapes and wine.  In 1996 he was selected as the outstanding advisor in the College of Science, and his co-op program was chosen as the best in California. He is a member of ACS (San Gorgonio past chair and current councilor), California Association of Chemistry Teachers (program chairman and southern section president, 1985-87), California Cooperative Education Association (president 1996-97), and Sigma Xi.


Description: The talk will include an overview of wine and wine making and more detailed descriptions of the chemical composition of grapes and wine, laboratory methods for analysis of grapes and wines, sensory and organoleptic methods used for wine, the role of tannin and other phenolic compounds in wine, and some potential health aspects of wine. This talk will have a "component and varietal analysis,” (wine tasting).  During a component analysis the audience will be given a reference wine sample with known levels of components such as acid, sugar, alcohol, etc. and then "unknown" samples in which one or more components have been increased by a known increment. During a varietal analysis a representative number of white and red wines will be compared.  

 Meeting:  A total of 39 people turned up for the first section meeting of the year.  Audience was challenged to taste a reference wine and then two altered wines in which only one of two of the following were altered:  % alcohol, total acidity, pH, sugar, total phenolics and sulfur dioxide.  White wine production was explained followed by a comparison tasting of two white wines.  The same was done for red wine.  After a side trip into trip into the world of rose wine the evening finished with dessert wine chemisrty and a tasting.

Pictures Wine Chemistry Talk

Ernie explaining the ins and outs of multi-ring chicken wire diagrams for organic molecules.


Audience trying to guess which component of the wine has been altered.






Ten ounces of wine and the audience is ready for more. 



 Speaker J. Ernest Simpson, and speaker with wife Jill.