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Review: Condensed tannin and grape cell wall interactions and their impact on tannin extractability into wine


Dr Mark O. Downey, fax: + 61 3 5051 4523, email:


It has been suggested that tannin extraction from grape berries into wine is limited by tannin binding to cell walls. Here we review the current state of knowledge and identify gaps in research that would enable characterisation of these interactions. Such characterisation could improve tannin extraction management in winemaking.

The work identified in this review supports the hypothesis that tannin–cell wall interactions are formed by hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic interactions with the binding capacity of the cell walls influenced by tannin and polysaccharide structure and composition. Cell wall changes during berry development may increase the tannin-binding capacity of cell walls, while tannin structure may also influence its affinity for cell wall material.

This review also identifies the need to investigate cultural and environmental factors that affect tannin and polysaccharide composition, to characterise the tannin-binding capacity of cell walls and to develop methods for assessing tannin-binding capacity of fruit prior to harvest. It is envisaged that a detailed understanding of tannin interactions with other components in the grape would lead to a predictive model for extractability of condensed tannins into wine.