Wine Polyphenols: Contributions to Taste

Polyphenols are secondary metabolites produced by plants. When animals and humans eat plants they absorb the polyphenols and obtain health effects. Polyphenols are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory in nature and this confers protection to the consumer. However, polyphenols are also important for the flavour and aroma of food and their interaction with other chemicals can significantly alter the taste of foods. Wine is a complex mixture of polyphenols including the grape skin polyphenols resveratrol, as well as its metabolites. Evidence suggests that grape polyphenols interact with volatile organic components of wine to cause the distinctive flavours and aromas associated with wine. This highlights the importance of grape selection as different grapes produce different polyphenols in different ratios, thus can directly affect the taste and aroma of the wine. However, wine chemistry is so complex that predicting the flavour and aroma of wines ahead of manufacture is more of an art than a science. 

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Pittari, E., Moio, L. and Piombino, P. 2021. Interactions between Polyphenols and Volatile Compounds in Wine: A Literature Review on Physicochemical and Sensory Insights. Applied Sciences. 11: 1157

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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