Scientists slowed down the ripening of grapes to improve the quality of the wine

Scientists slowed down the ripening of grapes to improve the quality of the wine
Scientists slowed down the ripening of grapes to improve the quality of the wine

A team of American researchers was able to change the growing conditions of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and slow down its ripening. This increased the number of compounds inside the berries associated with the characteristic floral and fruity notes of the drink.

Shot from the film "Return to Burgundy"

As grapes ripen and turn dark red, sugars and aromatics build up in them. But if the berries ripen quickly due to heat or lack of water, the result is poor quality wine. It has more alcohol and has a dull color and boiled fruit flavor.

To cope with the negative effects, scientists tested different ways of growing plants. Previous work has shown that a drop in yield on vines can accelerate the ripening of grapes, while more intensive irrigation at the end of the growing season delays the process.

Now, a US research team has tested the impact of these methods on the chemical components on which wine quality depends. Details of the work were published in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The researchers grew Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in a commercial vineyard in California's San Joaquin Valley. Then they either removed some of the bunches on the vines, or watered the plants more actively during the later growing season. Sometimes they did both, or nothing at all.

During the entire ripening period, the researchers collected berries for analysis. The results showed that grapes on vines with fewer bunches ripen faster - and contain more sugar. Moreover, if scientists watered such vines less often than others, the rate of sugar accumulation in the berries was sharply reduced.

In addition, the researchers found that slow ripening of the grapes reduced the six-carbon aldehydes and alcohols and 2-isobutyl-3-methoxypyrazine associated with the wine's herbal notes, and increased the norizoprenoids and terpenes, which are responsible for pleasant floral and fruity notes. That is, a longer cultivation of fruits improves the quality of raw materials for winemaking.

Finally, the authors of the work noted that adaptation strategies need to be investigated for several years before being introduced into existing practice.

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