The phenolic composition of red wine impacts upon the color and mouthfeel and thus quality of the wine. Both of these characteristics differ depending on the age of a wine, with the purple of young wines changing to brick red and the puckering or aggressive astringency softening in older wines. This study investigated the color parameters, tannin concentrations and tannin composition of a 50 year series of Cabernet Sauvignon wines from a commercial label as well as 30 year series of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines from a separate commercial label to assess the impact of wine age on phenolic composition and concentration. The wine color density in wines of 40 to 50 years old was around 5 AU compared with 16 AU of wine less than 12 months old, which correlated well with the concentration of non-bleachable pigments and pigmented polymers. Conversely, the anthocyanin concentrations in 10 year old wines were substantially lower than that of recently bottled wines (around 100 mg/L compared with 627 mg/L, respectively), adding further evidence that non-bleachable pigments including pigmented polymers play a much larger role in long-term wine color than anthocyanins. No age-related trend was observed for tannin concentration, indicating that the widely noted softer astringency of older red wines cannot necessarily be directly related to lower concentrations of soluble wine tannin and is potentially a consequence of changes in tannin structure. Wine tannins from older wines were generally larger than tannins from younger wines and showed structural changes consistent with oxidation.
- wine age
- wine color