Researchers at the department of food science and technology at Oregon State University in the US found that all the wines tested had bactericidal activity against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella Typhimurium, and Staphylococcus aureus. With red wine the most potent.
The synergistic effect of organic acids, ethanol, and low pH seems to be responsible for a major part of the antibacterial effect of wine, said the researchers.
"When different combinations of ethanol, organic acids, and acidity were tested against the pathogens, it was found that a composition of 0.15 per cent malic acid, 0.6 per cent tartaric acid, 15 per cent ethanol, and pH 3.0 had a strong bactericidal effect," report the scientists in the November/December issue of the Journal of Food Science, 69(9):M251-7.
Despite the suggested anti-bacterial effect present in the wine complex, as wine players increase in size - a sign of the times - they expose their businesses to greater risk, both qualitative and quantitative.
Ingredients firms are moving to target this growing potential market that sees just 3 per cent of wines inoculated with industrial bacteria as the traditional wine industry relies on centuries-old natural wine formulations.
Lionel Schmitt, sales and marketing manager at Chr Hansen, believes consolidation in the global wine market will drive growth for its industrial bacterias.
"In Australia for example four wineries cover 70 per cent of the market. Our products can eliminate some of the risk associated with the natural malolactic fermentation approach because they can secure production," he recently told FoodNavigator.com.
The need to manage production in an industrial fashion grows with increasing size, added Schmitt.
But with 97 per cent of the global wine businesses using traditional techniques the market still needs some convincing.
The firm supplies a range of wine ingredients that cover bacteria cultures, enzymes and yeasts. Last year it launched a new bacterial strain for red wine with a high alcohol content (16-17 per cent): Viniflora CH16. The product removes malic acid "so that the wine-maker can assure the quality of high-alcohol wines."