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Technical article

How best to define a type of ageing or a choice of closure depending on the sensitivity to oxidation of a wine? In addition to their knowledge based on empiricism, winemakers now have a reliable predictive test, developed by the Vinventions’ Enology team, which determines the sensitivity of wines to oxidation.

Many winemakers regularly question whether or not their wine has some ability to withstand oxidation. Choices as fundamental to winemaking such as the type of ageing – especially with regard to the level of exposure of the wine to oxygen – or the strategy of bringing SO2 up to the choice of the type of closure result. These choices depend directly on a simple and long-known observation: oxygen can “make” or “undo” the wine. It is therefore important to know how the wine will react in the presence of oxygen. Will his exposure to the air benefit or harm him?

Make more tailored choices based on the sensitivity of the wine

The Vinventions’ Enology team has developed a quick test, called Tendency of Evolution test. Two measurements are made with the PolyScan two hours apart, before and after the wine is exposed to the air. How the wine reacts to this contact will determine the result: “high sensitive” or “low sensitive.” From this result, the winemaker can direct his decisions to the different stages of wine ageing and cellar storage. For example, for ageing decisions, a winemaker may choose for a “sensitive” wine to reduce the time it will take to age or to blend that wine to another wine classified as “insensitive” to allow it to age for a longer period of time. For cellar handling, a “sensitive” wine will require more precautions and more inertage operations to avoid oxygen intake. The choice of the permeability of the closure is also to be reasoned according to this sensitivity. Sensitive wines can for example benefit from closure with a very low oxygen ingress (permeability)  to limit a rapid evolution of the wine in the bottle. Another interest is to be able to follow the evolution of wines over time. A “sensitive” wine at the beginning of ageing can become “sensitive” during the ageing or after, when stored in the cellar. The analysis will therefore allow the winemaker to adapt his decisions to several stages of the life of wine.

Follow the evolution of wines before and after bottling

As part of a collaborative project with the IFV and the Domaine de Donadille, funded by the Occitanie region, the Vinventions’ Enology team has been monitoring the evolution of different red wines in the process of ageing and bottling, by carrying out evolution trend tests. These tests allowed us to select materials that were going to be micro-oxygenated. Subsequently carried out at the time of the survey, these tests established that non-micro-oxygenated control wines had a higher sensitivity to oxidation than micro-oxygenated wines. After several months in the bottle, under strictly identical conditions of bottling, closure and storage conditions, the evolution of the control wines was much more important than that of micro-oxygenated wines, confirming the predictive nature of the test that had been carried out at the setting. These results highlight the interest of a winemaker to carry out this type of test in the cellar in order to refine his choices throughout the wine’s ageing, from the ageing strategy to the choice of the permeability of the closure.

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