What We Do and Why
Wine X Ray is the result of merging decades of practical winemaking experience with even more decades of hands-on process modeling, development and engineering. The artisanal approach to making wine is being synergistically integrated with the art of science and engineering. The result? Wine X Ray.
We provide measurements of phenolic compounds found in red wine and we collaborate closely with our clients on the use of this information. In most cases, great wine is no accident. In fact, precise viticulture and intelligent winemaking make better wine, reduce negative vintage variation, and allow for more grapes to make their targeted wine program. With the knowledge of the phenolic types and quantities present both in the fermentor and early in their aging process (tank or barrel), wineries have a powerful tool to assess vintage quality, volumes of wine per quality category, and meaningful grower assessment.
Perhaps the single most important fact to remember about red wine extractions is that they are only partial extractions. When a fermentor of red wine is drained, there are still skins and seeds present (with tannins and other phenolic compounds) and the pomace is red (with anthocyanins). In fact, if the finished wine has only 30% of the anthocyanins content of the grapes themselves, that would be considered an excellent extraction. What about tannins? Actually, the extractions of tannins are between 5% and 20% of the total tannins present in the skin and seeds.
Phenolic materials are the essential building blocks that make red wines red, and great red wines great. The structure of a wine is made of tannins and other phenolic materials that are found in the skins, seeds, and stems. They are essential for giving wine both structure and longevity, but if over the desired amounts, they can produce the textural sensation of astringency and bitterness. Tannins are also critical to stabilizing color in red wine and tannins and anthocyanins bind 'one to one', meaning that one molecule of tannin binds with one molecule of anthocyanin forming polymeric pigments. These compounds can then increase in length creating higher molecular weight compounds as the chains increase in length. The Harbertson-Adams Assay measures the polymeric pigments as either Small Polymeric Pigments (SPP: less than five molecules in length) or Large Polymeric Pigments (LPP: greater than five molecules in length). Wine X Ray combines these polymeric pigment measurements into one Bound Anthocyanins© value, and reports it in milligrams per liter (PPM). Since tannins are also presented in milligrams per liter, it is easy for our clients to understand the ratio of tannins to anthocyanins.
The quanitity of Bound Anthocyanins© varies widely, and can be manipulated in the fermentor and during the early stages of wine aging to increase its concentration. Wine X Ray and our trademarked ‘VESUVVIO’ method of predictive analysis using a UV-Visible Spectrophotometer, allow for essentially the real-time determination and reporting of the concentrations of various groups of phenolic compounds in red wines. In fact, the analysis can be performed rapidly and results can be returned to clients often within two minutes.
Phenolic concentrations vary widely between varieties, regions, clones, blocks, even growers. Some wineries are very effective at extracting a high percentage of the available anthocyanins and others are not. Tannins, the true woody part of the grape, are the foundations for structure and anthocyanins stabilization. Yet their concentrations vary widely too. Total Phenolics is a measure of the total extraction during maceration, and applied vinification techniques can alter their concentration greatly. But perhaps the most important measurement is the Bound Anthocyanins© level which is the amount of anthocyanins that has bound to tannins to form stable color, and contribute to the wine's longevity and texture.