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Red wine powder gives the benefits without the booze

By David VisickDavid Visick , 18-Sep-20091253224800
Last updated on 18-Sep-2009 at 12:54 GMT1253271298

The health benefits of wine could be available to those who prefer not to drink alcohol, says a German team who are adapting the by-products of red wine production to make a powder for use in yoghurts and chocolates.

The partnership behind the innovation, developed over a two-year project endorsed by European research and development network Eureka, is now looking for commercial partners to develop products including the powder.

Ingredients used in the fermentation process are traditionally discarded but the organic chemistry experts Spectral Service Gmbh says the healthy properties of wine can also be retrieved from the leftovers, and can be used as a food additive.

Spectral Services’ Dr Gabriele Randele, who leads the ProVino project said: “We worked from the principle that if omega-3-fatty acids are good for you, it’s better to eat fish than to swallow a supplement. By adding red wine powder to products we also wanted to keep some of the taste and colour of red wine.”

Red wine contains proteins, B vitamins, minerals and polyphenols, which are thought to prevent heart or circulation diseases, inflammation and thrombosis.

The ProVino project collected wine waste materials from vineyards in regions including Mosel, Rheinland-Pfalz, and the Ahr and worked with product development specialist Technologie-Transfer-Zentrum to test the powders in food and drink as well as cosmetic applications. They found different wine varieties produced very different tasting powders and different powder concentrations were suitable for different products.

Using a low-heat drying process which would not destroy ingredients, they developed powders which contained high amounts of nutrients, including a high dose of protein and polyphenols. Production application trials were then begun. "In some products the powder is too acidic and it wasn't nice," Randele said. "In others, the fruity taste of the grapes in combination with the acidic effect is refreshing."

The project also provides a potential market to wine producers, who currently face severe EU regulation over the disposal of waste products. Germany’s annual disposal of 120,000 hectolitres of wine by-products would be enough to produce 12,000 tonnes of dried powder, ProVino said.

ProVino says it is now talking to companies interested in the powder for specific products, and would consider creating a new company just to manufacture the powder.

Limited consumer testing took place earlier this year at the Innovation Days exhibition in Lisbon. A yoghurt drink containing the red wine powder was offered to visitors, some of whom were initially suspicious of the concept.

“That was really invaluable because we were forced to talk about the product, not just to companies, but also to ordinary people. We were forced to ask do they like the product?” said Randele.

The response of those who tasted the yoghurt drink was positive, even from those who were initially reluctant, she added. “Some told us they liked red wine but that it seemed weird to have it in a powder. When they tried it we convinced them.”

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