Wine phenolics

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 May;957:21-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2002.tb02903.x.


Wine contains many phenolic substances, most of which originate in the grape berry. The phenolics have a number of important functions in wine, affecting the tastes of bitterness and astringency, especially in red wine. Second, the color of red wine is caused by phenolics. Third, the phenolics are the key wine preservative and the basis of long aging. Lastly, since phenolics oxidize readily, they are the component that suffers owing to oxidation and the substance that turns brown in wine (and other foods) when exposed to air. Wine phenolics include the non-flavonoids: hydroxycinnamates, hydroxybenzoates and the stilbenes; plus the flavonoids: flavan-3-ols, the flavonols, and the anthocyanins. While polymeric condensed tannins and pigmented tannins constitute the majority of wine phenolics, their large size precludes absorption and thus they are not likely to have many health effects (except, perhaps, in the gut). The total amount of phenols found in a glass of red wine is on the order of 200 mg versus about 40 mg in a glass of white wine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / analysis
  • Coumaric Acids / analysis
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flavonols
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Wine / analysis*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Coumaric Acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Flavonols
  • Phenols
  • flavan-3-ol