The wine industry is well known for its production of a large amount of wastes and by-products. Among them, unripe grapes from thinning operations are an undervalued by-product. Grapes are an interesting source of natural antioxidants such as flavonoids, non-flavonoids and stilbenes. A potential strategy to exploit unripe grapes was investigated in this study. Juice from unripe grapes, v. Sangiovese, was obtained by an innovative technique of solid-liquid extraction without the use of solvents. The juice was dried by a spray-drying technique with the addition of arabic gum as support to obtain powder; juice and powder were characterized for antioxidant activity, phenolic concentration and profile. Phenolic acids, flavonols, flava-3-ols, procyanidins and resveratrol were detected in the juice and powder. The powder was used as anti-browning additive in white wine to test the potential re-use of the unripe grapes in the wine industry. The results indicated that the antioxidant complex from unripe grapes contributed to increasing the anti-browning capacity of white wine. Other applications, such as food and nutraceutical products development, can be considered for the antioxidant complex extracted from unripe grapes. In conclusion, the method proposed in this study may contribute to the exploitation of unripe grapes as a by-product of the winemaking process.
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