Effects of Traditional and Modern Post-Harvest Withering Processes on the Composition of the Vitis v. Corvina Grape and the Sensory Profile of Amarone Wines.Molecules. 2021 Aug 27; 26(17)M
In the Valpolicella area (Verona, Italy) Vitis vinifera cv. Corvina is the main grape variety used to produce Amarone wine. Before starting the winemaking process, the Corvina grapes are stored in a withering (i.e., dehydrating) warehouse until about 30% of the berry weight is lost (WL). This practice is performed to concentrate the metabolites in the berry and enrich the Amarone wine in aroma and antioxidant compounds. In compliance with the guidelines and strict Amarone protocol set by the Consorzio of Amarone Valpolicella, withering must be carried out by setting the grapes in a suitable environment, either under controlled relative air humidity (RH) conditions and wind speed (WS)-no temperature modification is to be applied-or, following the traditional methods, in non-controlled environmental conditions. In general, the two processes have different dehydration kinetics due to the different conditions in terms of temperature, RH, and WS, which affect the accumulation of sugars and organic acids and the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites such as stilbenes and glycoside aroma precursors. For this study, the two grape-withering processes were carried out under controlled (C) and non-controlled (NC) conditions, and the final compositions of the Corvina dried grapes were compared also to evaluate the effects on the organoleptic characteristics of Amarone wine. The findings highlighted differences between the two processes mainly in terms of the secondary metabolites of the dried grapes, which affect the organoleptic characteristics of Amarone wine. Indeed, by the sensory evaluation, wines produced by adopting the NC process were found more harmonious, elegant, and balanced. Finally, we can state how using a traditional system, grapes were characterised by higher levels of VOCs (volatile compounds), whilst wines had a higher and appreciable complexity and finesse.