The wine without the babalas
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London - Wine lovers may soon be able to indulge in their favourite drink without any adverse effects the next morning.
Scientists claim they have discovered the key to making hangover-free wine, by altering the DNA of yeast in the drink.
As well as reducing toxic by-products that cause the dreaded headaches and nausea of a hangover, the breakthrough could boost wine’s health benefits, the researchers said.
Professor Yong-Su Jin and his team at Illinois University used the enzyme nuclease as a ‘genome knife’ to snip DNA and precisely modify yeast strains used in fermentation.
They found that winemakers can clone the enzyme to enhance malolactic fermentation – a secondary process that makes wine smooth.
Improper malolactic fermentation generates the toxic byproducts thought to cause hangover symptoms, Professor Jin said.
The research, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, also offers hope of improving the nutrition of foods made using fermentation, including beer, bread and pickles.
‘Wine, for instance, contains the healthful component resveratrol,’ the professor said.
‘With engineered yeast, we could increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by ten times or more. But we could also… introduce bioactive compounds from other foods, such as ginseng.’
He stressed the genome knife’s importance as a tool that allows genetic engineers to make extremely precise mutations.
‘Scientists need to create designed mutations to determine the function of specific genes,’ he said. ‘Say we have a yeast that produces a wine with great flavour and we want to know why.
‘We delete one gene, then another, until the distinctive flavour is gone, and we know we have isolated the gene responsible for that characteristic.’