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While keeping wines on the fine lees the composition of nitrogen-containing substances, including the amino acid concentration, changes as a result of the autolysis of yeasts. During the course of former experiments, it was proven that yeasts were able to reduce the polyphenolic composition of wines. As part of the research for the present publication, the change of polyphenolic content in ‘Chardonnay’ wines kept on the lees was analysed. In addition the quantity of tyrosol, required for the forming of simple phenolics, was examined. The results proved that yeasts reduced the quantity of polyphenolics. In addition, due to the increased amino acid concentration, yeasts reduced the quantity of tyrosol that is derived from the amino acid called tyrosine.

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The sensory quality of red wines is basically determined by the colour, which depends on the amount and on the evolution of anthocyanins and other phenolic compounds extracting from the berries into the wine during wine-making. The anthocyanin-monomers are responsible for the development of the red colour, and their acylated derivatives provide stability for the colour of the wines. The anthocyanin profile of wines is affected by several factors: the grape variety, the conditions during wine-making, and also the yeast culture used for the fermentation. In our experiments a self-compiled model solution was fermented by spontaneous fermentation, as well as by four commercial yeasts under laboratory conditions. After fermentation total polyphenolics, anthocyanins, anthocyanin monomer profile, colour intensity, hue, and the ratio of polymeric anthocyanins were studied. Our results show that the spontaneous yeast fermentation resulted in a higher anthocyanin concentration in the fermented model solution, but the commercial yeast strains provided a more advantageous colour characteristic compared to the spontaneous fermentation. After the spontaneous fermentation less sediment was left than in the commercial yeast fermented samples.

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During the ageing in barrels, the contact with the fine lees triggers several processes in wine. Lees has a reductive effect by absorbing dissolved oxygen and reducing the amount, which will remain in the wine. At present, minimizing the addition of sulphur dioxide is the trend in all viticultural areas. In this study, the effect of various sulphur dioxide levels was monitored in presence of the lees to determine which dose is appropriate to provide the protection of susceptible white wine against oxidation.

Without SO2 protection, the rH and redox potential changed slightly, so the level of dissolved oxygen seemed to be controlled during the ageing period by the lees, though the antioxidant effect of lees in itself was not appropriate to protect the polyphenol content from chemical oxidation, which led to considerable browning. With the addition of a lower amount of SO2 — 40 mg l2, the lees is already able to protect the white wine samples in all aspects.

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