Global warming is affecting vineyards all around the world, and it has been visible and tangible for at least 2 decades. The consequence is a higher grape maturity and therefore a higher final ethanol content in wines.
This is sometimes a source of headaches to winemakers: when the alcohol level reaches concentrations above 14 or 15% v/v, the yeasts are ‘intoxicated,’ which can result in sluggish or even stuck alcoholic fermentations. To finish fermentation, even in these difficult conditions, Chr. Hansen has selected a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast: MERIT.
On the consumer side, there is a global, growing demand for full-body, full-flavor but lower alcohol concentrations. Three main categories of products are emerging on the market: no-alcohol wines, wines with a low level of alcohol between 8 and 10% v/v, and reasonable alcohol levels where wines are expected to stay within 11% and 13% and not reach 14% and higher.
The primary reason is the direct health impact of alcohol. Consumers are increasingly focused on their lifestyle and how it impacts their health, and thus the search for high-flavor, good-sensory experience with lower alcohol levels is definitively a growing trend.
Chr. Hansen is a pioneer in this field and is working in partnership with winemakers on how microbial solutions may help produce a well-balanced wine, rich in flavor, without green characteristics, with a full body using grapes harvested much earlier during the vintage.
Through our range of specialty yeasts and bacteria, we have defined a few protocols that help in reducing the final alcohol content through natural, microbial solutions.