Scientists at the University of Illinois are working on developing a hangover-free wine using a special species of yeast.

Hangover-Free Wine

Yong-Su Jin, an associate professor of microbial genomics at the University of Illinois, announced that he and his team had successfully engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast commonly used to ferment wine. The engineered yeast reduces the elements in wine that cause hangovers, or morning-after headaches, while increasing the positive health benefits.

“Wine, for instance, contains the healthful component resveratrol. With engineered yeast, we could increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by 10 times or more. But we could also add metabolic pathways to introduce bioactive compounds from other foods, such as ginseng, into the wine yeast,” Jin explained.

Specifically, Jin theorized that the use of engineered yeast could render the second fermentation stage, malolactic fermentation, useless. As the more negative effects of wine are produced in this stage, hangovers could be rendered obsolete. “We envision that our yeast engineering technology can get rid of the secondary fermentation step – and therefore the headache-contributing allergens – while still making wine taste smooth,” Jin said.

Jin continued to explain, saying, “Scientists need to create designed mutations to determine the function of specific genes. Say we have a yeast that produces a wine with great flavor and we want to know why. We delete one gene, then another, until the distinctive flavor is gone, and we know we’ve isolated the gene responsible for that characteristic.”

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