This study concerns the evolutions of some physicochemical characteristics of berries during conditions simulating the beaujolais wine-making process. In this process, a large number of intact berries is kept in a CO2 atmosphere which is produced by ethanolic fermentation of the must in the bottom of the tank. To simulate this, two equivalent samples of ripe Gamay or Carignane berries were placed in the same jar and subjected to carbonic anaerobiosis. One sample was maintained in the gaseous atmosphere and the other submerged in the liquid which was either an aqueous solution of 6 p. cent ethanol (v/v), the same solution with 1 M sorbitol, or grape must obtained from crushed berries. The aim of these experiments was to study, in both submerged and non-submerged samples, the effects of ethanol on rheological properties of berries and on potential extractabilities of colour and soluble nitrogen from skin and berry flesh. Whatever the model, ethanol had a deleterious effect on berries, especially on those which were immersed. For those, the development of anaerobic metabolism was drastically reduced, but nitrogeneous and colouring compounds extractabilities were significantly increased. The anthocyanins and their copigments seem to be preferentially extracted when berries were immersed. The rheological properties were related to the osmotical strength of the submerging liquid. It was assumed that hydratation or dehydratation phenomenons of cell-wall polysaccharides could explained the differences observed in the rheological behaviour of berries and in particular the modifications of their pellicular elasticity.
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