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Astringency, bitterness and color changes in dry red wines before and during oak barrel aging: An updated phenolic perspective review

Li, Si-Yu, Duan, Chang-Qing
Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 2019 v.59 no.12 pp. 1840-1867
aldehydes, astringency, bitterness, color, oak barrels, oxidation, oxygen consumption, pigments, red wines, sulfur dioxide, tannins
To understand effects of using oak barrels on the astringency, bitterness and color of dry red wines, phenolic reactions in wines before and after barrel aging are reviewed in this paper, which has been divided into three sections. The first section includes an introduction to chemical reactivities of grape-derived phenolic compounds, a summary of the phenolic reactions that occur in dry red wines before barrel aging, and a discussion of the effects of these reactions on wine astringency, bitterness and color. The second section introduces barrel types that determine the oak barrel constituents in wines (primarily oak aldehydes and ellagitannins) and presents reactions between the oak constituents and grape-derived phenolic compounds that may modulate wine astringency, bitterness and color. The final section illustrates the chemical differences between basic oxidation and over-oxidation in wines, discusses oxygen consumption kinetics in wines during barrel aging by comparing different oxygen consumption kinetics observed previously by others, and speculates on the possible preliminary phenolic reactions that occur in dry red wines during oak barrel aging that soften tannins and stabilize pigments via basic oxidation. Additionally, sulfur dioxide (SO₂) addition during barrel aging and suitability of adopting oak barrels for aging wines are briefly discussed.