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A NEW four-year research project undertaken by researchers at the Australian Wine Research Institute aims to reveal new insights into the timing and amount of oxygen required to benefit red and white winemaking and prevent reductive odours.

Oxygen. It’s all around us and is what helps keep our world going.

From breath to breath. Literally.

But now it seems oxygen also has a significant role to play in the wine industry and researchers are turning their attention to this vital element.

Since last July a team at the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) has been investigating the early influence of oxygen on red and white winemaking.

AWRI research scientist Dr Martin Day says the science and technique of adding oxygen in the early stages of fermentation is relatively new in wine science terms and is more widely accepted and used in France than Australia.

“But since we launched this project we’re finding more people are interested and there seems to be quite a lot of small-scale anecdotal work and positive results coming through from Australian wineries,” he says.

“In the beginning, a lot of the work being done by the AWRI in this area was around oxygen ingress during bottling and from closures, but we’ve definitely moved on in the past couple of years.

“Over time our own research results were telling us more than 20 per cent of wine faults were related to reductive characters and these weren’t limited to wines sealed under screwcap.

“This made us think that lack of oxygen in the early stages of winemaking could be to blame.

“We know it’s not a process that works for every wine variety or style but there’s enough knowledge out there to say if used correctly it can reduce reductive odours in wine and can influence certain styles,” Dr Day says.

Full story in June’s Grapegrower & Winemaker.