January tastings may be good news for fine wine companies

Fine wine companies could have reason to pop a few champagne corks of their own in 2013, with a landmark tasting due to take place in January of some innovative new wines.

The beverages were bottled in May 2012, and have been left until the new year to reopen by a team of researchers working with EU funding.

While getting paid to bottle, reopen and taste wine might sound like a dream job, their task is an important one - to find alternatives to sulphur dioxide to use as a preservative in foods of all kinds.

SO2 is more commonly listed on ingredients labels as E220, and is not a problem for most people, but can cause headaches and allergic reactions in a minority.

Now, using two compounds that occur naturally in wine, researchers believe they have come up with a workable alternative - and initial tastings have assessed wines made in the new way as being as good quality as SO2-containing beverages.

The tastings scheduled for this year should further support the development, and fine wine companies could soon be stocking bottles with the new compounds, with positive outcomes for those susceptible to the negative effects of SO2.