The Impact of Lees Stirring on Red Wine Quality (2017)

This study examines impact of stirring the lees of barrel aging red wines. Cabernet Franc wine was settled overnight in tank after pressing and then racked into two identical neutral barrels. Barrel stirring occurred once malolactic fermentation completed and continued once every two weeks until wine was sampled in late April. No major differences were found in wine chemistry. Some lactic acid bacteria counts were higher, and Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces was higher in the stirred wines as well. No differences were apparent in phenolics, except for an increase in tannin in the stirred wine. For the triangle test, of 21 people who answered, 7 people chose the correct wine (33%), suggesting that the wines were not significantly different. In general, of those who correctly distinguished the wines, 3 had no preference, 2 preferred the stirred wine, and 1 preferred the no stirring wine. For the descriptive analysis, there were no strong trends for the descriptors used in this study. There was a very slight trend for the stirred wine to have lower Astringency. In the future, more studies should be performed with red wine lees stirring, perhaps with differing levels of lees in the wines as well.

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