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Keywords:

  • tannins;
  • condensed tannins;
  • tannin assay;
  • tannin precipitation;
  • tannin quantification;
  • methyl cellulose;
  • grape extract;
  • proanthocyanidin;
  • red wine

Abstract

A precipitation assay is presented that enables tannin measurement in matrices of red wine, 50% ethanol grape extract and aqueous tannin solutions. By exploiting the polysaccharide polymer methyl cellulose to precipitate tannins, the absorbance of phenolics at 280 nm before and after tannin precipitation (subtractive approach) can be obtained, thus enabling selective measurement of tannin only. This methyl cellulose precipitable (MCP) tannin assay allows complete precipitation of tannin from red wine and from grape homogenate extracts. The subtractive assay is both simple and robust, selective for condensed tannins and does not suffer interference from other 280 nm-absorbing phenolics such as anthocyanins or catechins. Matrix effects have only minimal impact on the assay performance and validation parameters indicate a robust performance. There was good correlation between tannin measured by reverse-phase HPLC and the MCP tannin assay for 121 Australian red wines (r= 0.74) and also 54 grape extracts (r= 0.79). We envisage that the technical simplicity of this tannin assay will enable widespread research and field applications. In addition, an alternative format that requires re-solubilisation of the tannin-polymer pellet in acetonitrile is reported, which is particularly suitable for measurement of smaller tannin concentrations. Notwithstanding that option, technical requirements of the re-solubilisation step lead us to suggest that the subtractive format would be simple for adoption by wine industry practitioners.