Polyphenols content and antioxidant activity are directly related to the quality of wine. Wine also contains sulfites, which are added during the winemaking process. The present study aimed to evaluate the effects of sulfites on the assays commonly used to measure the antioxidant activity and polyphenols and flavonoids content of white wines. The effects of sulfites were explored both in the standard assays and in white wine. The addition of sulfites (at 1–10 μg) in the standard assays resulted in a significant, positive interference in the Folin–Ciocalteu’s assay used for polyphenols measurements and in both the Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power and 2,2′-azino-bis (3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) diammonium salt radical cation decolorization assays, which were used for antioxidant activity evaluation. A negative interference of sulfites (at 1–20 μg) was observed for the colorimetric aluminium-chloride flavonoids assay. The addition of sulfites to organic white wines (at 25–200 mg/L wine) clearly resulted in a significant overestimation of antioxidant activity and polyphenols content, and in an underestimation of flavonoids concentration. To overcome sulfite interferences, white wines were treated with cross-linked polyvinylpyrrolidone. The total polyphenols content and antioxidant activity measurements obtained after polyvinylpyrrolidone treatment were significantly lower than those obtained in the untreated wines. Flavonoids were expected to be higher after polyvinylpyrrolidone treatment, but were instead found to be lower than for untreated wines, suggesting that in addition to sulfites, other non-phenolic reducing compounds were present in white wine and interfered with the flavonoid assay. In view of our results, we advise that a purification procedure should be applied in order to evaluate the quality of white wine.
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