Wild yeasts could be key to better wines

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In California, researchers at the University of Adelaide found yeasts that naturally occur on wine grapes may improve wines produced in warmer climates. Up until now the use of these ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ yeasts during the production process has mostly been discouraged by wine makers. The study focusses on the effects of Lachancea thermotolerans yeast which occurs naturally on grapes and how certain strains of naturally-occurring yeasts have beneficial effects in wine production.

A solution to the common problem of over-ripened grapes that result in highly alcoholic wines and acidity, researchers found that the different yeasts could be a less expensive option for winemakers to fix the problem.

“This important research shows a potential new way for oenologists to improve the quality of wine grown in warm climates using different strains of naturally-occurring yeasts,” said Vladimir Jiranek, Professor of Oenology and Head of the Department of Wine and Food Science, University of Adelaide. “The ultimate aim of the research is to produce a simple method of blending different strains of yeasts to improve the quality of wine.”