Ageing on Lees (AOL) is a technique to improve the aromatic and gustatory complexity of wine, mainly by improving its body and reducing its astringency. However, the autolytic process is slow, resulting in high production costs. This work evaluated the effect of adding sonicated lees and combining it with oak chips, as a new technique to accelerate the AOL process and improve the aromatic quality of aged red wine. Cell disruption due to sonication was verified by optical microscopy. Volatile acidity, total polyphenol index, color intensity, tonality, dissolved oxygen, anthocyanins, and fermentative volatiles were monitored throughout the ageing of the wines. Sensory analysis was performed at the end of the ageing process. Polysaccharides released from the cell walls and the oxygen consumption, was quantified using a hydroalcoholic solution. The results indicated a 20% increase of the polysaccharide content and suggested an increase in the antioxidant capacity of the lees. No significant changes were observed in the fermentative volatile compounds and the total polyphenol index (TPI), except for those wines in contact with wood. The sonication of lees had some protective effect on the total anthocyanins content, however, color intensity was significantly lower in the sonicated treatments. The sonication of the lees did not cause any defect at the sensory level. Therefore, sonication could allow a reduction in the SO2
addition to wine, as well as a shortening of the ageing times.
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