The Mediterranean diet is worldwide well-known for being one the of the more tasteful, complete, natural and healthiest diet at the same time. One of the reasons that make it the queen of the diets is the antioxidant action of its ingredients, which minimize the oxidative stress process that takes place in our body.
But, what are antioxidants?
They are molecules that prevent the cellular oxidation generated by toxic substances called free radicals. Oxidative stress can cause different kind of damages (cellular, molecular..) and it is associated with the development of diseases and with the aging process.
We can find antioxidants in natural and fresh food, such as fruits and vegetables. It is also found in one of the most important Mediterranean drink: THE WINE
Polyphenols and wine
It has been proven that wine, a traditional drink in the Mediterranean diet, is one of the products with more polyphenols content and therefore with more antioxidant capacity.
Polyphenols content is very important from a wine quality point of view, since the way in which these compounds are transformed during the winemaking influences in their principal characteristics, providing their structure, color and sensorial characteristics.
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In grapes, polyphenols mainly exist in their skin (30%) and in their seeds (60%). During the winemaking process, the grape juice or must is in touch with them and acquires aroma, color and tannins.
This process mainly takes place in red wine, so the concentration of polyphenols is bigger than in white wine.
In addition, diverse factor, such as the maceration time, temperature, alcoholic grade, the stage of grape maturation, the processing or environmental factors (the barrel wood), take part in the final polyphenol concentration.
It should be noted that polyphenols contribute to wine organoleptic properties (color, astringency, etc.).
What kind of polyphenols can we find in wine?
Although there are plenty of phenolic compounds, we can classify them into two main groups: flavonoids and no flavonoids.
Mostly, no flavonoid compounds are in all parts of the grape bunch, especially in the pulp, while flavonoid compounds can be found in seeds, skin and branches.
During the winemaking process, 60% of grape polyphenols pass to the wine, most of them flavonoids. Among flavonoids we find:
Anthocyanins: they give color to red wines.
Tannins: they play an important role in the bitterness, astringency, structure, body and stability of the wine.
During vinification, the joining of anthocyanins and tannins is very positive since it gives stability to the color and reduces astringency.