Microencapsulated Yeasts Investigated for Wine Production

Funded by the European Commission, the INNOYEAST project aims to increase competitiveness of the European wine industry through the microencapsulation of wine yeast strains. From the press release:

The European project known as INNOYEAST (Innovation and improvement of European wine industry competitiveness by the research and development of native microencapsulated wine yeasts to produce quality wines) has been officially initiated. Led by Bodegas Baigorri, the wine producer from Rioja Alavesa, its scientific direction is by the Leia Foundation, the Alava-based Centre for Technological Development which has long experience in research in the wine producing sector.

The goal of this R+D+i project is cooperation in the competitive development for the whole European wine-producing sector by means of the isolation, selection and microencapsulation of the autochthonous yeasts from several European wine-producing regions (Rioja Alavesa, Bordeaux, Chianti and Vinho verde), in order to foment diversity in and typicality of the different wines made in these areas.

Wine is the end result of the fermentation of grape must – a complex natural microbiological process in which wine yeasts, originally present in the grape, are involved. Yeasts play a highly important role in the final composition and character of the wine. They not only transform the sugars present in the wine into alcohol, but they also cause the natural synthesis of the infinity of aromatic compounds that make up the final aromatic profile of the wine.

All wine producing vineyards currently employ external yeasts with excellent results: they ensure the natural transformation of wine must harvest after harvest, as well as the consumption of the sugars present in the wine, thus avoiding possible microbiological alterations that could alter its aroma. However, these yeasts have been isolated and produced in wine-growing regions that have nothing to do with the wines made from time immemorial in their corresponding wine producing areas, the possible result being that the wines lose the character of the region.

The isolation, selection and use of the yeasts from the vineyards in the Basque province of Alava will thus enable the wine producers of this (Rioja wine) area to have yeasts that express all the character typically inherent of these vineyards in its wines.

The incorporation, moreover, of microencapsulation will provide the autochthonous yeasts great added value. Microencapsulation is an innovative technology that enables the encapsulation of molecules or microorganisms in minute capsules to be employed with numerous advantages in sectors such as foodstuffs or pharmacy.

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