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Inhibition of reductive characters in wine by Cu-organic acids: predicting the duration of protection

Xinyi Zhang | National Wine and Grape Industry Centre, Charles Sturt University, Australia

Inhibition of reductive characters in wine by Cu-organic acids: predicting the duration of protection

Cu organic acid complexes efficiently bind hydrogen sulfide in wine and therefore prevent its accumulation and subsequent reductive off-flavour. This fraction of Cu can also bind methanethiol, the other main contributor to reductive wine characters, albeit with less efficient binding than for hydrogen sulfide. However, during bottle aging of wine, the concentration of Cu organic acid complexes gradually decline and the sulfide-bound form of Cu increases. The point at which the Cu organic acid concentration is depleted signifies a potential for reductive aroma development to occur. The aim of this study is ascertain how long Cu organic acid complexes in wine can offer a protection against the reductive aroma compounds.

High (0.6 mg/L), medium (0.3 mg/L) and no (0 mg/L) Cu(II) additions were made to Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay wines at bottling, and the bottled wines were then stored at 14 °C in darkness. Analysis was performed on the wines at 0, 2, 4, 8 and 12-14 months after bottling. Throughout bottle ageing process, the concentrations of three different Cu fractions, attributed to Cu organic acid complexes, Cu thiol complexes and sulfide-bound Cu, were monitored by stripping potentiometry and colorimetric methods. The free and salt-releasable concentration of hydrogen sulfide and methanethiol were determined by gas chromatography with chemiluminescene detection. Sensorial analysis was also performed on the wines after 12 months.

During the first 2-months of bottle aging of all wines, the Cu-organic acid concentrations initially remained stable or increased, as total packed oxygen was consumed. Afterwards, during the low oxygen aging phase of the wines, the Cu-organic acid concentration declined exponentially with a concomitant increase in sulfide-bound Cu. These changes in sulfide-bound Cu were matched by an increase the salt-releasable hydrogen sulfide concentrations of the wines during aging. Free concentrations of hydrogen sulfide and methanethiol were only found to accumulate in wines without any Cu-organic acid present at bottling. For the Pinot Grigio without Cu-organic acid present at bottling (i.e., the no Cu addition treatment), the free methanethiol concentrations in the wine were above the aroma threshold and this wine was assessed as reductive.  Alternatively, for the Pinot Grigio with Cu-organic acid complexes at bottling, only concentrations of free methanethiol below the aroma threshold were measured and the wine was not reductive. The decay in Cu-organic acid complexes, in the low oxygen aging phase of the wines, were found to follow first order kinetics that were similar for the Chardonnay and the Pinot Grigio. These results enable determination of the time-frame that Cu-organic acids can offer white wine protection against the potential accumulation of reductive aroma compounds.


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Published on 11/16/2022
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