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J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Apr 24;50(9):2622-6.

Influence of oak wood on the aromatic composition and quality of wines with different tannin contents.

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Cátedra de Química Agrícola, E.T.S.I. Agrónomos de Albacete, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Avda. España s/n. 02071, Albacete, Spain.


The aromatic compounds associated with aging in wood have been studied in Monastrell wines containing different quantities of tannin. Analyses were carried out before and after a six month period in wooden barrels (225 L) of American and French (Allier) medium-toasted oak. Three classes of wine were made: one from a free-run must; one to which enological tannin was added; and one to which was added the wine obtained by pressing the grape pomaces. The aromas were determined by GC-MS, and the quality was evaluated by a group of expert tasters. The aromatic compounds, some of which came from the wines themselves and others which came from the wood, all increased in concentration by the end of the aging process. The ratio between cis- and trans-whiskylactone contents in wines reflected the different types of oak wood used. The note "vanilla" used by the tasters is probably not totally due to the presence of vanillin. The wines of best quality were those with a natural tannin content which had been aged in American oak, whereas the wines to which enological tannin had been added but aged in the same wood were considered the worst. An equalizing effect on the sensorial wines qualities was seen to result from the use of French oak. The furfural, eugenol, and cis-, and in some cases trans-, whiskylactone contents identified the wines from the different classes of wood. The wood from which the barrels were made had a greater effect on wines differentiation than the tannin content.

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