Grape expectations for healthier wine

February 11, 2007

A new technique that uses ozone to preserve grapes could help prevent allergies and boost healthy compounds at the same time, reports Jennifer Rohn in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. The same technique could be used in the wine-making process to produce healthier wines without the added sulphites that can cause asthma and other conditions in some people.

Mass-marketed grapes can remain in storage for months and are usually treated with sulphur dioxide to prevent decay. Although the sulphur dioxide is effective, it is corrosive and can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Wine-makers have a similar problem in that the sulphites added to wines to prolong their shelf-life and allow them to age can make their wines unpalatable to some drinkers.

Francisco Artes-Hernandez and his team at the Technical University of Cartagena in Spain compared several different preservative methods with a new technique that involves exposing macroperforated packages of grapes at 0 degress C to cycles of 0.1 micro liters per liter of ozone. They found that ozone treatment was 90% as effective as SO2 at preventing decay. In addition, ozone-treated grapes had up to four times more antioxidants than untreated grapes (Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, doi 10.1002/jsfa.2780).

It is not yet known why antioxidant levels increase, but because these compounds are up-regulated in response to environmental stress in plant cells, it could be that the ozone is perceived as a biochemical insult.

Andrew Waterhouse, Chair of the Department of Viticulture at University of California, Davis, said that because wine growers don't store grapes for prolonged periods, they are unlikely to use ozone in any preservation process. He agreed, however that the ozone process could be tweaked to replace problematic sulphites added to wine during the liquification process, presenting the possibility of healthier more hypoallergenic wines.

Antioxidants, natural compounds found in red wine, chocolate, coffee and many fruits, are believed to help prevent a variety of diseases including cancer and neurodegeneration.
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Chemistry & Industry

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Chemistry & Industry magazine from SCI delivers news and comment from the interface between science and business. As well as covering industry and science, it focuses on developments that will be of significant commercial interest in five- to ten-years time. Published twice-monthly and free to SCI Members, it also carries authoritative features and reviews. Opinion-formers worldwide respect Chemistry & Industry for its independent insight.

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SCI is a unique international forum where science meets business on independent, impartial ground. Anyone can join, and the Society offers a chance to share information between sectors as diverse as food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental science and safety. As well as publishing new research and running events, SCI has a growing database of member specialists who can give background information on a wide range of scientific issues. Originally established in 1881, SCI is a registered charity with members in over 70 countries.

Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture

About the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture

The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (JSFA) publishes peer-reviewed original research and critical reviews in these areas, with particular emphasis on interdisciplinary studies at the agriculture/food interface. This international journal covers fundamental and applied research.

JSFA is an SCI journal, published by John Wiley & Sons, on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry, and is available in print (ISSN: 0022-5142) and online (ISSN: 1097-0010) via Wiley InterScience http://www.interscience.wiley.com For further information about the journal go to http://interscience.wiley.com/jsfa

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John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., based in Chichester, England, is the largest subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. provides must-have content and services to customers worldwide. Their core businesses include scientific, technical, and medical journals, encyclopedias, books, and online products and services; professional and consumer books and subscription services; and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. Wiley has publishing, marketing, and distribution centres in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols JWa and JWb. Wiley's recently re-launched Internet site can be accessed at http://www.wileyeurope.com

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