Low-alcohol yeast strain discovered

3rd March, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Australian scientists have discovered a natural yeast strain which can reduce alcohol levels by up to 1.5%.

yeastAccording to the Wine Spectator, the team at the Australian Wine Research Institute have isolated a yeast strain which proved capable of reducing alcohol levels in Shiraz by 1.4% and 0.9% in a Chardonnay.

The strain is called Metschnikowia pulcherrima and it was picked out from around 40 different strains and is usually present during normal fermentations.

However, while it may be of interest to producers wishing to lower the alcohol content in their wines and not use genetically modified yeasts, the new strain (also called AWRI 1149) has its problems too.

It was the most successful culture the team created when it came to fermenting sugar but it is not able to fully ferment a wine and dies leaving residual sugars behind.

This necessitates the use of the more normal Saccharomyces cerevisiae to create a dry wine – raising the alcohol level in the process and negating the reduction in alcoholic content gained by using M. pulcherrima.

Senior research scientist, Cristian Valera, admitted that more work was required.

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