Special Yeast Reduce Alcohol, Improve wine


A team of Australian researchers has taken a giant step towards controlling a growing problem in the wine community. They have identified special yeast that produce a lower level of alcohol, helping to preserve the flavor. Their research is published ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The alcoholic content of wine has crept gradually northward in the last 10-15 years, from 12-12.5 percent to beyond 15 percent. What might sound trivial to aficionados of hard liquor is seen by some oenophiles as a disturbing trend, threatening the flavor and character of some wines. That, plus issues of public health, as well as taxes (in some countries, on alcoholic content), have created a need for approaches to lowering alcohol content.

The investigation began with a systematic screening of non-Saccharomyces yeast as a means of achieving such a reduction, says corresponding author Cristian Varela of the Australian Wine Research Institute, Adelaide, South Australia. The investigators evaluated 50 different isolates from 40 species and 24 genera for their capacity to produced wine with reduced ethanol concentration. They chose the most successful of these yeasts, Metschnikowia pulcherrima AWRI1149, for experiments in which it was set to work separately on Chardonnay and Shiraz musts.


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