Condensed tannins take an important part in the sensory quality of food and beverage. Sensory analyses are usually carried out with various tannin fractions isolated from food or beverage, and their interpretation are limited by the lack of knowledge in the fine and accurate molecular composition of the tannin fractions. Besides, the studies of the chemical reactivity conducted in model solutions with 'simple' flavanols allow a better understanding of their evolution pathways, but they cannot take into account their reactivity as polymers, specifically regarding oxidation. In particular, competition between intramolecular and intermolecular reactions may strongly impact on the tannin structures (size, branching and conformation) and consequently on their properties. An ultra-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry electrospray ionization mass spectrometer analytical method was thus developed in order to identify oxidized tannins generated by autoxidation. Given the difficulties to separate and detect tannins with high DP, samples were depolymerized by chemical depolymerization prior to analysis. Since the linkages created by oxidation are not cleavable in the usual depolymerization conditions (contrarily to the original interflavanic linkages), specific oxidation residues are released from tannins structures after their autoxidation. Oxidation markers of both intermolecular and intramolecular mechanisms have been identified; these are mainly dimers and trimers, more or less oxidized, and some contain additional hydroxyl groups. Furthermore, the nature of the subunits (extension vs terminal) making up these dimers and trimers was clearly established.
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.