Oregon State University food microbiologist Mark Daeschel has figured out a way to keep wine from getting funky.
Oregon State University food microbiologist Mark Daeschel has figured out a way to keep wine from getting funky. “Microbial spoiling is always a problem” when it comes to winemaking, says Daeschel. One way winemakers combat wine-tainting bacteria is by adding the enzyme lysozyme during fermentation. It is naturally found in egg whites and breaks down bacteria cell walls. However, lysozyme binds to the tannins in wine, meaning less of it is available to kill unwanted bacteria. Daeschel has developed a simple way to improve the cleansing method: add pectin during fermentation. Also used to make jams, pectin stops lysozyme from binding to tannins so that it is free to do its job. “We just did some simple deduction and found it to be the best fit,” Daeschel says. “It’s a natural food ingredient, so there’s no problem adding it.” He filed for a patent four years ago. When it’s approved, winemaking equipment distributors will purchase a license for the method from Fordras, a Swiss company that helped fund the research.