Wine Literature Review Lightning Round: 7th Edition

It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for one single person to thoroughly review every single piece of peer reviewed literature related to wine that is published every day. This Wine Literature Review Lightning Round series presents three new papers (within the past year or two) in one post by briefly summarizing the research and linking to the abstract in order for you to pursue further if you’re interested. If there is enough reader interest, I can review any of the papers introduced to you in this post in a more critical assessment.

VITICULTURE/ENOLOGY

“Oak extract application to grapevines as a plant biostimulant to increase wine polyphenols”, published in January 2014 in the journal Food Research International, aimed to further understand the knowledge of the role of oak extracts in viticulture and winemaking, specifically whether or not application of these extracts onto the vines during the growing season could affect polyphenol levels in the finished wine.

Side note: We’ve covered the effects of oak extract on perceived oak flavors in finished wine a couple of

Photo by: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

times on The Academic Wino.  Read here for a study using Verdejo grapes/wine and here for a study using Petit Verdot grapes/wine.

Brief Results: After applying oak extracts to Monastrell grapevines, the wines made from the experimental grapes had lower alcohol levels, lower acid levels, higher color intensity, increased color stability, and increased levels of the polyphenols gallic acid, hydroxycynnamoyltartaric acids, acylated anthocyanins, flavanols, and stilbenes.

Brief Conclusion: According to the results of this study, the application of oak extracts to Monastrell grapevines improves the overall quality of the finished wine by increasing the levels of compounds responsible for color stability, antioxidant capacity, and other compounds that are linked to many human health benefits.

Source: Pardo-GarcĂ­a, A.I., MartĂ­nez-Gil, A.M., CadahĂ­a, E., Pardo, F., Alonso, G.L., and Salinas, M.R. 2014. Oak extract application to grapevines as a plant biostimulant to increase wine polyphenols. Food Research International 55: 150-160.

ECONOMICS/MARKETING:

“Does storytelling add value to fine Bordeaux wines?”, published in 2013 in the journal Wine Economics and Policy, aimed to understand if and how “storytelling” by a winery affects the market position of that wine and whether or not this extra prose results in increased willingness to pay for a bottle of wine on the luxury wine market.

Side note:  While we actually haven’t covered this exact aspect of wine economics, we have, in general, examined the effect of wine label design on the price of wine and willingness to pay for those wines.

Photo By Colin (Flickr: the brat pack) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Colin (Flickr: the brat pack) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Read here for a study on Millennial’s evaluations of wine based on the label design.

Brief Results: After analyzing the stories written for the 132 chateaux members of the Union des Grands Cru, results found 13 major components that formed the basis of all of the stories evaluated.  Breaking it down by appellation (wine region), results showed there were 4 major styles of communication identified.  Statistical analysis found a significant link between the style of narrative written and the price of that wine on the market.

The four main styles identified were: terroir, tradition & modernity, technical process, and consumers & culture. In terms of wine prices, those stories focusing on the winemaking side of things (technical process) resulted in the highest price points, while a narrative focusing mainly on geography actually decreased the price of the wine on the market.  Note: this is just one study in one area focusing on consumers in the luxury market, so results may differ depending upon the type of consumer in focus.

Source: Mora, P., and Livat, F. 2013. Does storytelling add value to fine Bordeaux wines? Wine Economics and Policy 2: 3-10.

PUBLIC HEALTH

“Ochratoxic A levels in Greek retail wines”, published in 2014 in the journal Food Control, aimed to determine the Ochratoxic A (OTA) levels in Greek wines found in retail setting. A somewhat common mycotoxin (i.e. produced by fungi), OTA is thought to be a carcinogen and harmful to human health at certain doses.

Side note:  Want to read more about toxins and wine?  We’ve covered articles related to formaldehyde in leather production, soil and groundwater contamination of arsenic, and copper levels in Croatian wines.

Results: 47 out of 55 dry Greek wines were found to be positive for OTA (white, red, and rosé), while 5 out of 5 sweet Greek wines were found to be positive for OTA.  55 of the samples had OTA levels that

Photo By created by Minutemen using BKchem 0.12 (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By created by Minutemen using BKchem 0.12 (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

were below the limit set by the European Union (<2ng/mL), while 5 of the samples had OTA levels ABOVE this legal limit.

Dry wines from Thessalia tended to have slightly higher OTA levels, while wines from central and western Greece tended to have slightly lower OTA levels than those from Thessalia.  These results indicate that the OTA levels in wine may be a function of the physical location of the source grapes and the fungal community living in those areas, however, based on the study sample size, it does not appear that OTA exposure from Greek wines should be of great concern (with the exception of the 5 that had levels higher than the legal limit). More work on greater sample sizes would need to be done in order to make more solid conclusions.

Source: Sarigiannis, Y., Kapolos, J., Koliadima, A., Tsegendis, T., and Karaiskakis, G. 2014. Ochratoxin A levels in Greek retail wines. Food Control 42: 139-143.

What do you think about this topic?