The complex aroma of wine is derived from many sources, with grape-derived components being responsible for the varietal character. The ability to monitor grape aroma compounds would allow for better understanding of how vineyard practices and winemaking processes influence the final volatile composition of the wine. Here, we describe a procedure using GC-MS combined with headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) for profiling the free volatile compounds in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Different sample preparation (SPME fiber type, extraction time, extraction temperature and dilution solvent) and GC-MS conditions were evaluated to optimize the method. For the final method, grape skins were homogenized with water and 8 ml of sample were placed in a 20 ml headspace vial with addition of NaCl; a polydimethylsiloxane SPME fiber was used for extraction at 40 degrees C for 30 min with continuous stirring. Using this method, 27 flavor compounds were monitored and used to profile the free volatile components in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at different maturity levels. Ten compounds from the grapes, including 2-phenylethanol and beta-damascenone, were also identified in the corresponding wines. Using this procedure it is possible to follow selected volatiles through the winemaking process.