Know thy enemy: oxygen or storage temperature?

by | Dec 14, 2021 | South Africa Wine Scan

It is well known that high oxygen levels and high ageing temperatures are detrimental to white wine’s composition and ageing capacity. However, these results, though valuable, have often been obtained under extreme temperatures of oxygen levels that wine will normally not be exposed to (Cejudo-Bastante et al.,2013). Previous work performed have shown that multiple oxygen additions to wine can lead to the degradation of certain important compounds such as varietal thiols and SO2 (Coetzee et al., 2012). However, the interactive effects between oxygen additions normally experienced during bottling and temperatures that wine are exposed to during bottle ageing, have not received sufficient attention, especially in terms of sensorial development of the wine. The main aim of this work was thus to investigate the effects of different oxygen levels at bottling and subsequent bottle ageing temperatures on white wine’s chemical and sensorial development over time.

Sauvignon blanc and Chenin blanc wines were both produced under relative reductive conditions and then bottled at 0.3, 3 and 6 mg/L total packaged oxygen and closed under screw cap. These wines were then stored at either 15 or 25 °C for 6 and 12 months and analysed for a wide array of compounds (antioxidants, colour, varietal thiols and major volatiles) as well as sensorially with descriptive analyses using a trained panel.

Oxygen levels in the wine decreased more rapidly in the wines stored at 25 °C. However, the parameter tested that was influenced by the different oxygen additions to the largest extent was the SO2 levels, which decreased the most at the highest oxygen levels. Time was the largest contributor in terms of changes in the yellow/brown colour and glutathione levels. Varietal thiols levels were not affected by the oxygen levels, but higher temperatures led to more rapid acid hydrolyses of 3MHA in the case of the Chenin blanc wines. Certain fruity esters also decreased quicker at the higher storage temperatures. Time and especially storage temperature had the largest effects on the sensory composition of the Sauvignon blanc wines, with oxygen influencing it to almost no extent. Higher storage temperatures led to less fruity aromas such as grapefruit and passion fruit after 12 months, with more baked apple. The trends were less clear in the Chenin blanc after 6 months, but oxygen led to significantly lower levels of the guava descriptors, with little difference observed between the treatments after 12 months. This work indicates that wine producers should strive to keep oxygen pickup to a minimum during bottling, but that such quality control procedures is probably to a large extent negated if the wines are exposed to too high storage temperatures during subsequent bottle ageing.

Authors: Wessel Du Toit – South African Grape and Wine Research Institute, Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Stellenbosch University, James Walls, South African Grape and Wine Research Institute, Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Stellenbosch University, Carien Coetzee, Basic wine.



This abstract has been reproduced in its original form as permitted by the Creative Commons license of IVES.

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