Grape expectations for healthier wine

February 12, 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.

Source: Society of Chemical Industry

Explore further: Irradiation preserves blueberry, grape quality

Related Stories

Irradiation preserves blueberry, grape quality

January 5, 2016

It is often necessary to treat produce for insects in order to transport crops out of quarantine areas. Fumigation with methyl bromide, one of the most common treatments, is in the process of being phased out because of its ...

Caution urged in storing methyl bromide-treated produce

August 1, 2011

Operators of facilities that store or process crops treated with methyl bromide should take extra precautions to protect their workers from postharvest exposure to the fumigant, advise experts at UC Davis, the California ...

Recommended for you

Video: A colorful 'landing' on Pluto

January 20, 2017

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip ...

Scientists develop first catalysed reaction using iron salts

January 20, 2017

Scientists at the University of Huddersfield have developed a new chemical reaction that is catalysed using simple iron salts – an inexpensive, abundant and sustainable alternative to costlier and scarcer metals. The research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.