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Great news for wine lovers

New yeast could make wine better for you AND ease the hangover afterward

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Monday, March 23, 2015, 8:51 AM - It's almost too good to be true, if you're a lover of the grape.

Scientists at the University of Illinois have engineered a kind of yeast that could not only improve wine's purported health benefits, it can also take the sting off the morning after if you've had a bit too much.

"Wine ... contains the healthful component resveratrol," says Yong-Su Jin, an associate professor of microbial genomics, in a release from the university. "With engineered yeast, we could increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by 10 times or more."

It doesn't stop there. The research, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, opens the door to add other compounds, like ginseng, into the yeast used in wine production. 

"Or we could put resveratrol-producing pathways into yeast strains used for beer, kefir, cheese, kimchee, or pickles — any food that uses yeast fermentation in its production," Jin adds.

As for the hangover, that can be eased by cloning the particular enzyme that causes malolactic fermentation -- a part of the process that affects how smooth the wine is. If that part of the process isn't done right, it generates the toxins that can cause hangovers.

Jin says the study benefited from a new research method called a "genome knife," which is much more precise than previous methods.

"Say we have a yeast that produces a wine with great flavor and we want to know why," Jin says. "We delete one gene, then another, until the distinctive flavor is gone, and we know we've isolated the gene responsible for that characteristic."

SOURCE: University of Illinois | Applied and Environmental Microbiology

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