Genetic research triggers a 'revolution' for wine merchants

Wine merchants may soon have entirely new grape varieties to choose from, thanks to genetic research carried out in New Zealand.

A team at Lincoln University in New Zealand have been looking at 'transposons' - sections of a grape's genetic code that can theoretically be transplanted to elsewhere in its complete sequence.

Ordinarily these are not expressed, but under certain stress conditions they can be triggered, and artificially doing this is allowing the scientists to investigate new possibilities.

Dr Chris Winefield, project team leader, says: "We can assess which plants we could be interested in from a commercial perspective; for instance, for reasons such as disease tolerance, sustainable production, or a capacity to produce an interesting new variety of wine."

The breakthrough is being called a "revolution" for the industry - and new varieties may mean a revolution for wine merchants and their customers too.

In New Zealand, where wines are frequently marketed based on the type of grape used, this could have particular significance - and may lead to totally new tastes coming from the country in the years ahead.