Genetic research may allow wine merchants to offer greater variety and value

Wine merchants and genetic researchers might sound like they have little in common, but there's plenty of science that goes into each glass of fine wine you drink.

One of the most important elements in the winemaking process is, of course, related to the yeast that each fine wine company uses to ferment the grape sugars into alcohol.

However, in the case of the yeast Dekkera bruxellensis, things have been a little hit or miss in recent years, as some wines fermented with it develop an unpalatable medicinal flavour.

Now scientists at Sweden's Lund University have taken the unusual step of sequencing the entire genome of the yeast, allowing those who use it in food and drink production to better understand its action.

"We now know a lot about how D bruxellensis acts in the aroma formation process during wine production," says Professor Jure Piskur of the Department of Biology.

For wine merchants, that has multiple benefits - firstly, it means any fine wine company using the yeast may be able to tailor the taste of their product more specifically, and create new-tasting wines.

Secondly, it means less wastage due to medicinal-tasting wines, helping independent wine merchants to pass on that value to their customers through competitive pricing and special offers.