shutterstock_129188594If you are a reader of the “Pour” by Eric Asimov in the New York Times, you might be familiar with the quality of wine and spirits and how the quest for the perfect wine can move masses and the economy.

The organoleptic properties of these products are very much region- and origin-dependent, which is why some regions in the world are famous for being the most suitable for grape culture; one of the world’s most famous examples is the Mediterranean area.

In one of his recent articles, Mr. Asimov selected a list of wines under $20US to accompany a weeknight dinner or after-dinner drinks.  Even in the case of “weekday wine”, you want to be sure that the origin of the wine stated on the label is the authentic,  as this, in a way, is a guarantee of quality — and you’ll likely want to be certain of this guarantee when paying more than $20 per bottle.

Looking at the isotope fingerprint of your sample — whether food or beverage — you can define its origin. Isotope fingerprints are a unique chemical signature that allows a product to be identified. The isotope fingerprint of food and beverage goods is region or process specific, which means that products can be differentiated based on geographical region (cheese, coffee, sugar, fish and animal feeding areas), botanical processes (beans, seeds, olive oil, vanilla), soil and fertilization processes (fruits and vegetables) and fraudulent practices (sugar addition to honey, watering of wines and spirits). These processes can be traced using carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen and hydrogen isotopes, with their variations indicating the origin and history of food and beverage products.

In the case of wine, it is not only the isotope fingerprints that can indicate the origin of the product, being the representative of specific regions, but they can also reveal if a product has been adulterated — such as additional water added — indicated by different isotope ratios. Read more here.

Thanks to the definitive answers of isotope fingerprints, their applications vary a lot. They can be used for the source identification of PM2.5 particles in air pollution. They can also be used for identifying material origin, human and animal provenance, or origin of drugs of abuse to support criminal forensic investigations or for doping control analysis.

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Click here to discover more about the answers that Isotope Fingerprints provide for criminal forensics investigations.

The question arises quite automatically: how do we detect the isotope fingerprint of a sample? The fingerprint can be visualized by Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS), which measures the carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, or oxygen isotopes in the sample and their variations. Isotopic measurements provide quantitative and empirical data that are reproducible and easy to validate.

To discover more about isotope fingerprints attend the free e-learning and investigate with the Isotope Hunter on what isotope fingerprints are, how can they be visualized and measured, and for which applications: In the different chapters you will discover why isotope fingerprints enable scientists to get conclusive answers on origin and authenticity of samples for a variety of applications. Are you ready to become an Isotope Hunter?

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