Study: Wine flavor down to microbes

Dec. 27, 2012 at 8:58 PM
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STELLENBOSCH, South Africa, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Different microbes may create variations in otherwise identical wine grapes in the same vineyard and affect the wine's flavor, South African researchers say.

Mathabatha Setati and colleagues from Stellenbosch University said various microbes could contribute to flavor fluctuations in samples of grapes from one vineyard as they are fermenting in different tanks.

"In the wine industry, the fungal communities on grapes are especially important," the researchers wrote in the journal PLoS ONE. "The microbial species present on the berry may contribute to the fermentation process, and therefore the aromatic properties of the resulting wine."

The researchers sampled grapes from different vines in three well-established commercial vineyards and found that in a single vineyard small differences between vines, such as temperature or sun exposure, could significantly alter the composition of the fungal community on grape skins.

"Our findings could help viticulturists and winemakers plan micro-harvest better, and implement better wine blending strategies to ensure consistency," Setati said.

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