Background: Porous plastic tanks are permeable to oxygen due to the nature of the polymers with which they are manufactured. In the wine industry, these types of tanks are used mainly for storing wine surpluses. Lately, their use in combination with oak pieces has also been proposed as an alternative to mimic traditional barrel ageing.
Results: In this study, the spatial distribution of dissolved oxygen in a wine-like model solution, and the oxygen transfer rate (OTR) of high-density polyethylene tanks (HDPE), was analysed by means of a non-invasive opto-luminescence detector. Also, the chemical and sensory evolution of red wine, treated with oak pieces, and stored in HDPE tanks was examined and compared against traditional oak barrel ageing. The average OTR calculated for these tanks was within the commonly accepted amounts reported for new barrels. With regards to wine evolution, a number of compositional and sensory differences were observed between the wines aged in oak barrels and those stored in HDPE tanks with oak barrel alternatives.
Conclusion: The use of HDPE tanks in combination with oak wood alternatives is a viable alternative too for ageing wine.
Keywords: HDPE; ageing; oak wood; oxygen; polyethylene; wine.
© 2014 Society of Chemical Industry.