The idea of “protective winemaking” is to reduce oxygen exposure and the associated risk of oxidation. Protective juice handling is typically included in this approach.

White wines are fermented in closed-top tanks to keep out as much oxygen as possible while allowing carbon dioxide to escape from fermentation. Then, all following activities are carried out as much as possible in closed machinery, and if exposure to oxygen occurs, small amounts of sulfur dioxide are supplied. Low-temperature processing and storage encourage carbon dioxide retention, which has the effect of removing any unintentionally dissolved oxygen.

Red wines are substantially less vulnerable to oxygen exposure due to their higher phenolic content. In fact, if they go through barrel maturation, some oxygen exposure when topping up helps the wine mature.

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