COLLABORATIVE research by Lallemand Oenology and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) has found that non-GMO Saccharomyces cerevisiae wine yeast is capable of producing lower alcohol levels in wine with no production of undesirable compounds.
This particular wine yeast is the first in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species to be selected for its low rate of sugar to alcohol conversion.
For example, in a wine with a potential alcohol level of 15.8% (v/v), this wine yeast produces a wine with 1.3 degrees of alcohol less than all other the wine yeasts utilised, and compensates by producing more glycerol – a desired natural metabolite that increases the sensation of fullness in the wine.
Interestingly, this wine yeast does not produce such undesirable compounds as acetoin and the acetate level is particularly low.
During wine trials, this new wine yeast maintained the overall quality of the wine produced.
The selection method was described as adaptive evolution, which is the selection of natural yeast with desired characteristics.
There is a patent pending method for obtaining low ethanol-producing yeast strains, yeast strains obtained therefrom and their use (January 2014, 55729550-2EP).
The challenge is now to produce this yeast in active dry yeast form to make it available to winemakers.
Lallemand has extensive expertise in the optimisation of yeast production of many species with different needs.
“We therefore undertook the development of the production process of this innovative wine yeast ensuring that it maintains its remarkable properties during winemaking, a step prior to its official launch in the wine industry,” the company said.
An announcement will be made when the yeast is commercially available.
MARKET FOR LOW ALCOHOL WINES
Nowadays, global warming, viticultural practices and vine selection tend to produce wine with higher alcohol levels.
However, the market is currently oriented towards beverages with moderate alcohol content, in line with public prevention policies, consumer health issues and preferences.
Moreover, as some countries impose taxes on the alcohol content, it raises economic issues.
High levels of alcohol can also alter the sensory quality of wines by increasing the perception of hotness and, to a lesser extent, by decreasing the perception of sweetness, acidity and aroma.
Consequently, reducing the ethanol content of wine at various steps of the winemaking process has been a major focus of winemaking research.
One of the most attractive and least expensive options is to use yeasts that produce less alcohol from the same amount of sugar, such as this new wine yeast.
For more information contact Ann Dumont