Catechins and the Taste of Wine
Catechins react with tannins to make the primary flavor component in red wine. These complexes are present at levels well above threshold levels, and are the main source of astringent and bitter sensations.
In general, the smaller the catechin polymer, the stronger the sensation tends to be. Larger complexes with tannins have little to no taste because they are too large to fit in the taste bud receptor.
The primary catechins in wine are catechin,epicatechin and gallate epicatechin. Gallate epicatechin plays the most important role in taste sensation; the greater concentration of gallate epicatechin, the greater degree of polymerization.
Catechins are the major building blocks of tannins. When catechins join together, they are also known as procyanidins. These compounds are most common in the seeds and skins of grapes that have not fully ripened.
The concentration of catechins in wine tells a winemaker the extent of compound extraction from grape seeds. (assuming whole cluster fermentation is not used). In order to increase these compounds; punch down techniques, extended maceration and increased temperatures are used during the fermentation process.
Phenols, specifically catechins, decrease as grapes mature. Their concentrations in red wine range from 10 milligrams per liter to 250 milligrams per liter. The lighter-bodied the varietal is, the higher its catechin concentration.
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