Sparkling Wine: Timing is Everything

Sparkling Wine: Timing is Everything

Author: Nancy McGuire

Sparkling wines represent a small but lucrative part of the wine market. Red sparkling wines are emerging as a result of recent efforts to diversify the available types of sparkling wine. Preserving a fresh, light taste during the secondary fermentation process requires that grapes be harvested earlier for sparkling wines than for still wines. Complex carbohydrates, which evolve during grape ripening, affect the fermentation and sensory properties of the wine. However, little is known about how they develop during the making of red sparkling wines.

Leticia Martí­nez-Lapuente, Instituto de Ciencias de la Vid y del Vino, Logroño, Spain, and colleagues studied two batches of red sparkling wine made from Tempranillo grapes, harvested ten days apart, from a single vineyard. Riper grapes produced wines with polysaccharides and oligosaccharides distributed more broadly over a range of molecular weights than did less mature grapes. All of the wines had similar oligosaccharide concentrations, but oligosaccharides from riper grapes were more soluble and stable. Wines from riper grapes had higher mannose concentrations, possibly because of their higher alcohol content, but after 6 months of aging, these levels fell significantly, possibly because of colloid formation and precipitation.

The results suggest a grape ripening influence on sparkling wine carbohydrate concentration, composition, and structure.


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