Published in Wines & Vines
By Caroline Merrell and Melissa Hansen
Formation of polymeric pigments is important for successful cellaring of red wine as they help soften wine’s astringency and provide long-lasting color. Research supported by the Washington State Wine Commission has identified factors that can maximize polymeric-pigment formation to help improve red-wine quality.
During fermentation and while red wine ages, polymeric pigments form from the reaction of anthocyanins and tannins, phenolic compounds that come mainly from the skin and seeds of the fruit. Anthocyanins contribute to the red color of grapes and wine; tannins are astringent but add flavor complexity and structure to a wine.
A study by Washington State University scientists examined the effects of fruit maturity, alcohol and wine aging on the concentration of anthocyanins, tannins and polymeric pigments in Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The goal was to determine the most important factors involved in forming polymeric pigments and provide winemakers with practical guidelines to keep polymeric pigments stable in a wine environment over time.
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