Hyperoxidation and micro-oxygenation—what they mean and what each technique contributes to the resulting wine.

Photos courtesy of 00 Wines.
Photos courtesy of 00 Wines.

[Information based on DipWSET D1 material]


Hyperoxidation is specific to white winemaking and is an option winemakers have pre-fermentation as a way to expose the must to large quantities of oxygen in order to both clarify it and protect resulting wine from oxidation further down the line. The result is that compounds in the white must that most easily oxidize, will. These oxidized compounds turn the must brown—but it’s cool because those compounds will then precipitate during the fermentation process and can be removed, and the wine will be its “normal” color.

As mentioned, the goal of hyperoxidation is to stabilize the wine from oxidation post-fermentation. (I guess kind  of like getting a flu shot?) Further, it can help remove bitter compounds from grape skins, seeds, and stems that may still be in the must. (So this process is really for must that’s enjoying a bit of skin contact, I believe.)

It’s noted that the process will also destroy volatile aroma compounds, so is better suited to neutral grape varieties.

Micro-oxygenation, if I understand correctly, can be used in both white and red winemaking. The process of micro-oxygenation involves bubbling oxygen through the wine, a little bit at a time, over the course of several months post-fermentation. This is typically carried out in stainless steel, as it’s (usually) intended to work as a cheaper, faster replacement for the slow oxygen integration experienced with barrel aging. As such, it is often used in conjunction with oak adjuncts.

Benefits to micro-oxygenation are similar to those found with “normal” oxidative techniques—color stability and intensity, softening of tannins, reduction of unripe, herbaceous flavors.

How’d I do? Did that all make sense? Anything I forgot or you want to add?

Thanks again for studying with me!

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