Specialty Lighting Solutions for Wine, Beer, and Champagne Displays
The photodegradation of all food groups including alcoholic beverages is well researched and documented. In the past this damage was often associated with UV and IR radiation. However we now know that the visible spectrum affects the chemical and organic composition of champagnes, wines, beers and other beverages.
Most of the damage occurs at the point of sale or when stored in private cellars, as producers are well aware of the “light struck” effect and protect their products from light. Much of the research was done using fluorescents but recent studies using LEDs confirms significant damage from the visible spectrum of wavelengths above UV and in particular 375nm , 440nm and up to 520nm.
White and rose wines are the most delicate and sensitive and can be damaged within minutes affecting their taste and aroma. This is caused by the light catalyzed reactions with riboflavin to form mercaptans and other sulfurous compounds that have an unpleasant smell and taste, described often as skunky odors, pungent smells of leek, onion, cooked cabbage, wet wool or soy.
Manufacturers try to reduce this damage by using tinted glass bottles. However in time light will go through to some extent as many alcoholic beverages are kept on the shelf or aged for a long time. Exposure to regular lighting makes all wines suffer a loss of quality in color, body, flavor and smell.
Promolux safe spectrum lamps are now available in almost all formats with different levels of protection. We provide true colors for retail display as well as special amber colors for long term storage and aging in cellars and which have minimum radiation in the wavelengths that affect alcoholic beverages.
Best known for research about light-flavors of champagne (“goût de lumière”), is Maujean of the University of Reims, who has proven that when the amino acids in wine were oxidized by light, the champagne became unpleasant in taste and smell in just minutes of such exposure to light, for example in a supermarket.
In a similar way all beer can become “light struck” which is unmistakable as it produces a most powerful smell and aroma almost immediately after the beer has been exposed to light. For this reason most beer is presented in tinted glass to reduce this effect. As in the case of wines, beer contains enzymes that when oxidized by light break down into free radicals and sulfur containing molecules and mercaptans that produce that skunky smell and off taste. Lights that have a wavelength of under 500 nm are the main cause for this oxidation.
Finally all other alcoholic beverages show degradation due to photo oxidation to some degree and depending on how long they have been on the shelf. That includes rum, whisky, bourbon, scotch, various liqueurs among others.