Tuning the pH during the fermentation has a strong effect on the wine protein composition and the stability of the resulting white wines

AIM: Previous results have shown the impact of the pH on the stability of white wine proteins. In a context of global warming that implies increases in ethanol content and pH, we wanted to compare for the same initial must (given composition in polysaccharides, polyphenols, ions, _) the impact of the pH on the protein composition after fermentation. Several white wine varieties were considered. METHODS: Vinifications were carried out using musts from Sauvignon, Muscat, Sylvaner, Riesling, Gewurztrminer, and Pinot Gris). The pH of the initial musts was adjusted to 3.0, 3.3, 3.6 and 3.9. For each wine thus obtained, heat tests (heating at 40°C for 4 hours) were carried out and proteins were analyzed and quantified by gel electrophoresis. RESULTS: On the whole, protein concentrations in wines decreased during fermentation. However, this decrease was more marked for the lowest pH (3.0 and 3.3), as well as for some proteins (chitinases, b-glucanases). Thus the total concentration of proteins was higher at pH 3.9. The turbidity measured after heat tests evolved differently: a maximum was observed at pH 3.6 in the present experimental conditions (40°C- 4h). CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that the pH has a decisive impact on the protein composition in white wines, with higher pH favoring their conformational stability during winemaking. However, haze formation due to heat-induced denaturation of proteins is higher at high pH. This trend was observed whatever the studied variety, but with more or less haze intensities. This indicated also an impact of non-protein compounds, whose composition strongly depends on the grape variety.

Authors: Céline Poncet-Legrand – INRAE,Eric MEISTERMANN, IFV Aude VERNHET, Institut Agro, Montpellier SupAgro Philippe COTTEREAU, IFV Frédéric CHARRIER, IFV  Patrick CHEMARDIN, INRAE Céline PONCET-LEGRAND, INRAE

Email: celine.poncet-legrand@inrae.fr

Keywords: white wines, haze formation, proteins, pH

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