Keeping White Wine Clear With New Nanotech

Thursday, May 21st, 2020 | 1062 Views

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, or Chardonnay — when you reach for your favourite white, it’s the clean, clear sparkle that first catches your eye. Or does it? When white wines look cloudy it’s a sign of protein instability, and a sure-fire way to turn customers away.

Research led by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) in partnership with the University of South Australia, is ensuring white wines will always look their best as novel magnetic nanotechnology is proving to quickly and efficiently remove haze-forming proteins in white wine.

Lead researcher, Dr Agnieszka Mierczynska-Vasilev says the new technology shows promise as a valuable and sustainable alternative to conventional bentonite fining treatments, potentially saving the wine industry millions.

“Protein haze is a serious problem for the wine industry. Not only because consumers see it as a defect, but also because conventional bentonite treatments can cause significant wine volume loss, which is also reflected in the bottom line,” said Mierczynska-Vasilev.

“In Australia, the overall estimate of loss caused by bentonite fining is around $100 million annually, and globally, this equates to approximately $1 billion per year,” he continued.

Traditionally, proteins are removed using Bentonite to prevent haze formation. However, as bentonite is a clay, it wells in the wine solution and can lead to a loss of wine volume of approximately three percent.

On the other hand, the new technology uses magnetic nanoparticles coated with acrylic acid polymers which, when placed in heat-unstable wine, attract and bind proteins to the nanoparticles’ surfaces. The particles are then drawn from the wine using a magnet, leaving behind a clarified product devoid of haze.

“Unlike bentonite, a defining feature of this nanotechnology is its ability to be regenerated for re-application, without any adverse effects on the wine’s colour, aroma and texture compounds,” said Mierczynska-Vasilev.

“While there is still some way to go before the technology can be practically applied in wineries, and the need to obtain regulatory approval both in Australia and overseas, given the clear economic, sustainable and sensory benefits, this nanotechnology has a very strong potential for adoption — it’s absolutely a ‘watch this space’,” he concluded.


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