Raise the toast for new era of low-alcohol wine

Sydney, Jan 17 (IANS): Those who have switched to wine for health-related reasons but worried over its growing alcohol content, here is the time to say cheers again.

A team of Australian researchers have identified special yeast that produce a lower level of alcohol, helping to preserve the wine flavour.

In last 10-15 years, the alcoholic content of wine has gone up gradually - from 12-12.5 percent to beyond 15 percent.

“The investigation began with a systematic screening of non-Saccharomyces yeast as a means of achieving such a reduction,” said Cristian Varela of the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide.

Once the slower-growing Metschnikowia yeasts had consumed 50 percent of the sugar, S. cerevisiae were added to the mix to complete the process.

This reduced the alcohol content in Shiraz (dark-skinned grape variety used primarily to produce red wine) from 15 percent to 13.4 percent.

In Chardonnay - a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine - it reduced the alcohol content further, said the study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

“The reduction isn't all that great, but it's in the right direction, and with more work, they might get that even lower,” said Alan Bakalinsky of Oregon State University, Corvallis.

The rise in alcohol content in wine has resulted from later harvesting of red grapes.
The boost in alcohol content reduces aroma and flavour intensity.

“It would also reduce wine costs in countries where alcohol consumption is taxed,” the study said.


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