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Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

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Published: 6 Jun 2018

Researchers at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) are helping wine makers get bottles of premium sparkling wine on the shelves sooner than previously possible.

The ageing process for sparkling wine usually takes at least 18 months, but researchers at TIA may have found a way to significantly reduce this time.

Research Fellow, Dr Fiona Kerslake, and PhD candidate, Gail Gnoinski, are investigating ways to shorten the process of ageing premium sparkling wines whilst maintaining or improving the quality.

Preliminary results indicate the ageing process could be reduced, possibly to just six months for some wine styles, meaning wine producers could get product on the shelves much faster than currently possible.

“What physically happens to yeast cells as they start to break down during the wine making process is not well understood. We have made wine for this trial and are opening bottles at different time intervals to take a closer look under the microscope. We know that yeast cells break down and release compounds but this hasn’t been visualised before,” Dr Kerslake said.

“Yeast cells only start to break down after three months which adds to the maturation process of sparkling wine. As part of this trial we’re experimenting with adding some already broken-down yeast cells to see if this can speed-up the production of quality sparkling wine.”

The $1.4 million project is funded by Wine Australia with in-kind support from TIA, Hill-Smith Family Vineyards (Jansz/Dalrymple/Yalumba), University of Adelaide, Apogee Tasmania and Josef Chromy Wines. The research includes a PhD project.