Electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopic assessment of the contribution of quercetin and other flavonols to the antioxidant capacity of red wines

P T Gardner, D B McPhail, A Crozier, G G Duthie

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Health benefits of red wine have been ascribed in part to the antioxidant properties of quercetin and other flavonols. Red wines, however, contain many other polyphenolic compounds with antioxidant potential. The present study has assessed the antioxidant capacity of seven red wines using electron spin resonance spectrometry to measure their ability to donate hydrogen atoms to a stable Fremy's radical. Antioxidant capacity of the wines was strongly related to the total phenol content (r = 0.872, P < 0.01) but less so to total flavonol content (r = 0.651, P < 0.10). The only flavonols detected in the wines by HPLC with post-column derivatisation were the aglycones and conjugated forms of quercetin and myricetin. These accounted for less than 2% of total phenolic content when expressed as gallic acid equivalents. Although these flavonols showed marked ability to quench Fremy's radical, they contributed less than 1.5% to the total antioxidant capacity of the wines. Consequently, quercetin is not a major antioxidant in red wine. The antioxidant activity of other polyphenols may be of greater importance in contributing to the reputed health benefits of moderate wine consumption. (C) 1999 Society of Chemical industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1014
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 1999


  • ESR
  • wine
  • flavonols
  • quercetin
  • myricetin
  • polyphenols
  • antioxidant capacity
  • Fremy's salt
  • free radical
  • coronary heart disease
  • low-density-lipoprotein
  • lipid-peroxidation
  • oxidation
  • chromatography
  • consumption
  • inhibition

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