Phenolic Characteristics and Antioxidant Activity of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Wines Increase with Vineyard Altitude in a High-altitude Region

  • Xiao-duo Jin College of Oenology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling
  • Xuan Wu College of Oenology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling
  • Xu Liu College of Oenology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling


Altitude, as an important factor in the expression of terroir, may affect wine quality. We evaluated the effect of altitude and its related climatic conditions on the phenolic characteristics and antioxidant activity of red wines made from grapes originating from high-altitude areas. The content of total phenolic compounds, total flavonoids and total anthocyanins increased with altitude in Merlot (ME) and Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) wines.  Cabernet Sauvignon wines showed richer tannins with increasing altitude.  Merlot and CS wines from higher altitude vineyards, showed a greater antioxidant capacity. Salicylic acid, syringic acid, caffeic acid, (+)-catechin, (−)-epicatechin, and the sum of individual phenolic compounds in the wines
increased with altitude based on the results of HPLC. The scores of the sensory evaluation of ME wines increased with higher altitude. The highest score was determined for CS wine originating from 2 608 m.  A clear grouping of wines according to grape cultivar and vineyard altitude was observed by principal component analysis. Regression analysis showed that altitude, followed by sunshine hours, made the greatest contribution to differences in the phenolic characteristics and antioxidant activity of red wines at different sites in a high-altitude region.


Download data is not yet available.


Apak, R., Guculu, K.G., Ozyurek, M. & Karademir, S.E., 2004. Novel total antioxidant capacity index for dietary polyphenols and vitamins C and E, using their cupric iron reducing capability in the

presence of neocuproine: CUPRAC method. J. Agric. Food Chem. 52, 7970-7981.

Azuma, A., Yakushiji, H., Koshita, Y. & Kobayashi, S. 2012. Flavonoid biosynthesis-related genes in grape skin are differentially regulated by temperature and light conditions. Planta 236, 1067-1080.

Berli, F.J, Alonso, R., Beltrano, J. & Bottini, R., 2015. High-elevation solar UV-B and abscisic acid sprays increase grape berry antioxidant capacity. Am. J. Enol. Vitic. 66, 65-72.

Berli, F.J., Fanzone, M., Piccoli, P. & Bottini, R., 2011. Solar UV-B and ABA are involved in phenol metabolism of Vitis vinifera L.increasing biosynthesis of berry skin polyphenols. J. Agric. Food Chem. 59, 4874-4884.

Brand-williams, W., Cuvelier, M.E. & Berset, C. 1995. Use of a free-radical method to evaluate antioxidant activity. LWT-Food Sci. Technol. 28, 25-30.

Buzo, R., Malollari, I., Makolli, V.L. & Luka, M., 2014. Chemical and physical arrangements and ecological impact on red wine micro-oxygenation. J. Environ. Prot. Ecol. 15, 616-622.

Cheng, Y.F., 2008. Study on the method of determination of mono-phenol in grape berry and wine (pp. 19-29). [MSc dissertation]. Yangling, China: Northwest A&F University.

Cohen, S.D. & Kennedy, J.A., 2010. Plant metabolism and the environment: implications for managing phenolics. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. 50, 620-643.

Compendium of international methods of wine and must analysis. 2014. OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine), Paris.>

Dewick, P.M. & Haslam, E., 1969. Phenol biosynthesis in higher plants. Gallic acid. Biochem. J. 113, 537-542.

Douglas, D., Cliff M, A. & Reynolds, A.G., 2001. Canadian terroir: characterization of Riesling wines from the Niagara Peninsula. Food Res. Int. 34, 559-563.

Downey, M.O., Dokoozlian, N.K. & Krstic, M.P., 2006. Cultural practice and environmental impacts on the flavonoid composition of grapes and wine: A review of recent research. Am. J. Enol. Viticult. 57, 57-268.

Downey, M.O., Harvey, J.S. & Robinson, S.P., 2003. Synthesis of flavonols and expression of flavonol synthase genes in the developing grape berries of Shiraz and Chardonnay (Vitis vinifera L.). Aust. J. Grape Wine Res.9, 110-121.

Falcão, L.D., de Revel, G., Perello, M.C., Moutsiou, A., Zanus, M.C. & Bordignon-Luiz, M.T., 2007. A survey of seasonal temperatures and vineyard elevation influences on 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine, C13-norisoprenoids, and the sensory profile of Brazilian Cabernet Sauvignon wines. J. Agric. Food Chem. 55, 3605-3612.

Harbertson, J.F., Picciotto ,E.A. & Adams, D.O., 2003. Measurement of polymeric pigments in grape berry extracts and wines using a protein precipitation assay combined with bisulfite bleaching. Am. J. Enol. Viticult. 54, 301-306.

Jia, Z.S., Tang, M.C. & Wu, J.M., 1999. The determination of flavonoid contents in mulberry and their scavenging effects on superoxide radicals. Food Chem. 64, 555-559.

Jiang, B. & Zhang, Z.W., 2012. Comparison on phenolic compounds and antioxidant properties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines from four wine grape-growing regions in China. Molecules, 17, 8804-8821.

Jiang, B., Zhang, Z.W. & Zhang, X.Z., 2011. Influence of terrain on phenolic compounds and antioxidant activities of Cabernet Sauvignon wines in Loess Plateau region of China. J. Chem. Soc.

Pakistan. 33, 900-904.

King, E.S., Stoumen, M., Buscema, F., Hjelmeland, A.K., Ebeler, S.E., Heymann, H. & Boulton, R.B., 2014. Regional sensory and chemical characteristics of Malbec wines from Mendoza and California. Food Chem. 143, 256-267.

Kumar, N., Kumar, S., Vats, S.K. & Ahuja, P.S., 2006. Effect of elevation on the primary products of photosynthesis and the associated enzymes in barley and wheat. Photosynth. Res. 88, 63-71.

Li, H., 2006. Wine tasting. Science Press, Beijing.

Li, Z., Pan, Q.H., Jin, Z.M., Mu, L. & Duan, C.Q., 2011. Comparison on phenolic compounds in Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet Sauvignon wines from five wine-growing regions in China. Food Chem. 125, 77-83.

Liang, N.N., Zhu, B.Q., Han, S., Wang, J.H., Pan, Q.H., Reeves, M.J. & Duan, C.Q., 2014. Regional characteristics of anthocyanin and flavonol compounds from grapes of four Vitis vinifera varieties in five wine regions of China. Food Res. Int. 64, 264-274.

Lutz, M., Jorquera, K., Cancino, B., Ruby, R. & Henríquez, C., 2011. Phenolics and antioxidant capacity of table grape (Vitis vinifera L.) cultivars grown in Chile. J. Food Sci. 76, C1088-C1093.

Machlin, L.J. & Bendich, A., 1987. Free radical tissue damage: protective role of antioxidant nutrients. FASEB J.1. 441-445.

Mateus, N., Machado ,J.M. & de Freitas, V., 2002. Development changes of anthocyanins in Vitis vinifera grapes grown in the Douro Valley and concentration in respective wines. J. Sci. Food. Agric. 82, 1689-1695.

Mateus, N., Marques, S., Goncalves, A. C., Machado, J.M. & De Freitas, V., 2001. Proanthocyanidin composition of red Vitis vinifera varieties from the Douro valley during ripening: Influence of cultivation elevation. Am. J. Enol. Viticult. 52, 115-121.

Meng, J.F., Fang, Y.L., Qin, M.Y., Zhuang, X.F. & Zhang, Z.W., 2012. Varietal differences among the phenolic profiles and antioxidant properties of four cultivars of spine grape (Vitis davidii Foex) in Chongyi County (China). Food Chem. 134, 2049-2056.

Oliveira, C., Ferreira, A.C., Costa, P., Guerra, J. & De Pinho, P.G., 2004. Effect of some viticultural parameters on the grape carotenoid profile. J. Agric. Food Chem. 52, 4178-4184.

Roullier-Gall, C., Boutegrabet, L., Gougeon, R.D. & Schmitt-Kopplin, P., 2014. A grape and wine chemodiversity comparison of different appellations in Burgundy: Vintage vs terroir effects. Food Chem. 152, 100-107.

Singleton, V.L. & Rossi, J.A., 1965. Colorimetry of total phenols with phosphomolybdic phosphotungstic acid reagents. Am. J. Enol. Viticult. 16, 144-158.

Skerget, M., Kotnik, P., Hadolin, M., Hras, H.R., Simonic, M. & Knez, Z., 2004. Phenols, proanthocyanidins, flavones and flavonols in some plant materials and their antioxidant activities. Food Chem. 89, 191-198.

Spayd, S.E., Tarara, J.M., Mee, D.L. & Ferguson, J.C., 2002. Separation of sunlight and temperature effects on the composition of Vitis vinifera cv. Merlot berries. Am. J. Enol. Viticult. 53, 171-182.

Tibshirani, R., 1996. Regression shrinkage and selection via the lasso. J. R. Stat. Soc. B. 58, 267-288.

Vidal, S., Cartalade, D., Souquet, J.M., Fulcrand, H. & Cheynier, V., 2002. Changes in proanthocyanidin chain length in winelike model solutions. J. Agric. Food Chem. 50, 2261-2266.

Wrolstad, R.E., 1976. Color and pigment analyses in fruit products. Station Bulletin 624. Agriculture

Experimental Station, Oregon State University, Corvallis.

Yamane, T., Jeong, S.T., Goto-Yamamoto, N., Koshita, Y. & Kobayashi, S., 2006. Effects of temperature on anthocyanin biosynthesis in grape berry skins. Am. J. Enol. Viticult. 57, 54-59.

Zhang, S.B., Zhou, Z.K., Hu, H., Xu, K., Yan, N. & Li, S.Y., 2005. Photosynthetic performances of Quercus pannosa vary with elevation in the Hengduan Mountains, southwest China. Forest Ecol. Manag. 212, 291-301.