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Monday, 16 December 2013 00:00

Researchers design a new methodology to reduce wine production cycle and increase its antioxidant effects

Researchers of the Agrifood Campus of International Excellence (ceiA3) and members of the Agricultural Chemistry Department from the University of Cordoba (UCO) have developed a new production method for sweet red wine from Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot varieties,as reported by Fundación Descubre.

These varieties, characterized by its intense red colour, have been introduced in Andalusia in the last few years and have become one of the most used fruits in the oenological sector, according to experts. In particular, scientists have focused on the drying stage of the red grape, by controlling factors as temperature and humidity (with the aim of reaching better colour than those wines produced using the traditional sun drying process) reduction of time and increase in the antioxidant activity.

In the article "Anthocyanin Evolution and Color changes in Red Grapes During their Chamber Driyng", published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the research team demonstrate that by controlling temperature and humidity in the drying chamber, the drying phase is reduced and the red grape keeps its colour and flavour properties. "This new mechanism allows this process to reduce dehydration phase until reaching raisins from 7-10 to 3 days and has the advantage of increasing the antioxidant effect and intensifying its red colour three times more. In the same way, this is independent from climate conditions, that is, the process can be developed in any geographical area and does not depend on sun", researcher from the UCO Julieta Mérida reported to Fundación Descubre.

In order to develop this new methodology for sweet red wine, researchers collected firstly the required amount of grapes in Montilla-Moriles area in Cordoba. "From then on we classify the grape in sets of 30 kilograms and we place them in a drying chamber with a steady 40ºC temperature and initial humidity of 20%" researcher Julieta Mérida said. She adds: "Controlling the drying process allowed us to finish the experiment being able to choose the level of grape maturity and avoiding appearance of fungi, because favourable conditions of the chamber stopped the development of any contaminant factor during the maturity process".

To extend the range of wines

The research tackle a new approach on the study of different parameters that affect the sweet red wine production. "These kinds of wine are more and more common in our region and that is why to study the factors that affect the performance of varieties of grape contributes to the improvement and better knowling of a product that is being consolidated" Ms. Mérida added.

In that sense, results obtained from the study allowed the research team to open new research lines focused on the repetition of the drying process in other red fruits like blueberries and raspberries. "After these successful results in raising processing both in white and red grapes, next stage will be to apply the drying methodology in controlled conditions with other fruits with antioxidant properties, for direct consumption or for the extraction of low alcohol content beverages", Ms. Mérida said.

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