Phenolic compounds are a wide family of thousands of natural bioactives well-known for their overwhelming demonstrated health benefits. Particularly in wines, polyphenols and quality are closely interconnected. Indeed, these compounds possess a critical role due to their contribution to organoleptic wine quality as color, astringency, and bitterness. The profile or the composition of certain polyphenols has been even proposed as an analytical tool for authenticity certification. In this sense, although important progress has been achieved, the understanding of the relationship between the quality of a particular wine and its phenolic composition remains one of the major challenges in enology research. But why? If there is an adjective to define wine, it is “complex.” This final complexity of a wine begins with the enormous polyphenolic variability that may be present in grapes influenced by ripening, genetic, or environmental factors, among others. Winemaking process (alcoholic and malolactic fermentation) and wine aging with or without wood contact produce endless reactions giving rise to complex transformations (copigmentation, cycloaddition, polymerization, and oxidation) of polyphenols. This chapter gathers the most relevant information about the composition, variations, and transformations of phenolic compounds from grape to wine including their influence on sensory properties.
Part of the book: Chemistry and Biochemistry of Winemaking, Wine Stabilization and Aging