During its production wine can react with substantial amounts of aerial oxygen. Some oxidation can be beneficial, especially in red wine, but if allowed to occur in excess it is highly detrimental, making oxygen management an important aspect of wine making.
The use of reduction potentials at platinum electrodes to measure the redox state of wines extends back over 80 years. The premise is that reductants in wine produce oxidized derivatives and the balance between the two determines the reduction potential, as in classical electrochemistry.
As the detailed mechanism of wine oxidation becomes better understood, it is apparent that redox couples in wine do not function in this way. It is proposed that the observed potentials are mixed potentials largely due to ethanol oxidation coupled with oxygen reduction. Under low oxygen conditions, further redox couples can contribute to the mixed potential, both directly and via adsorption effects at the platinum electrode.