This chapter reviews the chemical diversity of flavonoid phenolics in grapes (Vitis vinifera L.) with impact on the sensory properties of red wines. Anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, tannins, and polymeric pigments are discussed from a chemical, technological, and sensory perspective. Anthocyanins, responsible for the color of red wines, reach a peak of extraction after 4 or 5 days of maceration, followed by a decrease in their concentration as maceration progresses. Flavan-3-ols and oligomeric tannins from skins are responsible for bitterness and extracted within the first days of maceration, whereas extraction of seed-derived tannins requires longer maceration times. Matrix effects, including the presence of anthocyanins, polysaccharides, and other cell-wall components affect the rate of retention of tannins into wine. Polymeric pigments, bearing astringent and bitter properties different from those of intact tannins, are formed from covalent reactions between anthocyanins and tannins, putatively accounting for the changes in mouthfeel and textural properties of red wines during maceration and aging. Different maceration techniques applied during red wine production affect the rate, quantity, and the chemical composition of wine phenolics. Understanding of the factors that modulate phenolic retention into wine should allow the winemaker to adjust maceration variables to meet stylistic and/or commercial specifications.
Part of the book: Phenolic Compounds