Agro-industry byproducts can still contain large amounts of phenolic compounds, and one of the richest sources are grape skins and seeds as grape pomace, both fermented (red winemaking) and unfermented (white winemaking). The residual polyphenolic content depends on various factors such as grape variety, vintage, and winemaking technique. In this work, four red grape varieties cultivated in northern Italy were studied: Albarossa, Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Uvalino. The work was aimed at studying the polyphenolic composition of skins and seeds from fresh grapes and from the corresponding pomace after fermentative maceration, to assess the actual importance of the varietal differences when processing winemaking byproducts for the extraction of phenolic compounds. The skin and seed extracts were prepared by solvent extraction with a 50% hydroalcoholic solution. The polyphenolic composition of all extracts was determined by spectrophotometry and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC); the content and the monomer composition of condensed tannins were determined by phloroglucinolysis; the antioxidant capacity was measured with the ABTS (2,2’-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6- sulfonate)) method. The antioxidant capacity was higher for the seeds than for the skins, and it was positively correlated with the condensed tannins content. Significant differences in polyphenolic composition of fresh grape skins and seeds were observed between the different cultivars. In particular, Barbera and Albarossa skins were significantly distinguished from Nebbiolo and Uvalino skins for a higher content of anthocyanins and a lower content of vanillin-reactive flavans and condensed tannins; regarding seeds, Barbera and Albarossa had a lower content of vanillin-reactive flavans, proanthocyanidins, and condensed tannins than Nebbiolo and Uvalino. The winemaking process extracted the phenolic compounds to a different extent from skins and seeds, regardless of the cultivar. The differences between cultivars in the polyphenolic profile disappeared after fermentative maceration.
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