Role of sotolon in the aroma of sweet fortified wines. Influence of conservation and ageing conditions
The aroma of the sweet fortified wines is often characterised by the « rancio » descriptor. According to the mode of conservation and the type of vine, the intensity of « rancio » character inay vary notably.
The molecule responsible for this aroma in sweet fortified wines has been identified to the sotolon. According to its content, this molecule can influence differently the aroma of wines. Less than of 300 µg/1, sotolon takes part of « prune » aroma, whereas between 300 and 600 µg/1, it is responsible for the « dried prickly-pear, dried fruit » aroma. More than of 600 µg/1, the sweet natural wines are characterised by « rancio » character. An oxidising conservation is essential for high content of sotolon. An accidental oxidising during ageing in bottle, according for instance with a poor quality of the cork, may increase the formation of this compound in some sweet fortified wines. With the same âge and for the same level of the oxidation, the red sweet natural wines have always a lower sotolon content than the whites. The presence of polyphenolic compounds, by slowing down oxidising phenomena and by reducing the accumulation of ethanal essential for the sotolon formation, explains the lower content of this molecule in the red wines. The sotolon formation in the sweet natural wines has been studied through many experimentations on wines and model solutions at the laboratory and the winery scales. We show that the formation of sotolon during conservation and oxidising ageing of sweet natural wines essentially depends on chemical phenomena.
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