The super - wine

Scientists at Tel-Hai College are developing a super-wine, rich in the golden molecule – resveratrol

The super - wine (Enlarge)

 

In the research laboratory of Dr. Meir Shlisel, an expert in wine chemistry from Tel-Hai College, studies are taking place to develop a wine with especially strong health qualities, including a high level of the potent antioxidant called resveratrol, considered the “golden molecule.

” The central idea of this research is focused on the fact that resveratrol is an antioxidant that is highly effective against heart disease, slows the development of cancerous growths, prevents infection and more. Producing wine that includes high levels of resveratrol is a project with health and economic significance.

For hundreds of years, wine has been considered a drink with many medicinal properties. In the 1990s comprehensive research was conducted which compared the dietary habits and level of heart disease of French and American subjects, which when publicized earned the nickname the “French paradox.” It was found that the incidence of heart disease among the French, who drink wine daily, was 40% lower than the Americans, despite the fact that the French dietary habits include a diet rich in animal fats. Wine was recognized as a central factor in prevention of cardiac events and atherosclerosis. In other studies it was found that the medicinal properties of wine are due to the high level of phenolic compounds it contains. Among the many phenolic molecules found in wine, one compound was discovered that has the most effective antioxidant properties – resveratrol, which is a stilbenoid. This family of molecules has the most beneficial properties among the rich diversity of components in red wine.

 

These substances are produced in grapevines and grapes and serve as protective mechanisms for the vine against a wide variety of pests, diseases and stressors that can happen in a vineyard at different stages of growth. The grapevine produces these substances in reaction to different stressors such as UV light, infection by pests and oxidation damage. The research is based on the idea that exposure of wine grapes, before and after harvest, to oxidative stress of ozone will cause an increase in the level of stilbenes in general and resveratrol in particular in these grapes.

The initial experiments to confirm this idea were conducted in Dr. Meir Shlisel’s laboratory by Ron Schweitzer, an honor student in the Food Science department at Tel-Hai College, in the framework of the “Research Project” course in which students conduct research in the laboratories of college faculty members. “The research project examined the effect of exposing grapes to ozone gas immediately after harvest in an atomized chamber,” explains Dr. Shlisel. “The ozone gas puts oxidation pressure on the tissue of the grapes which respond with increased production of stilbenes with beneficial medical abilities.

In the research, an increase of up to six times the level of resveratrol was found in the grapes that were exposed to ozone versus the grapes in the control group that were not treated with ozone after harvest. Following the success of these initial results, a research proposal was submitted for the development of wine rich in resveratrol and stilbenoids to the research fund of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture.

This research proposal received a budget of 450,000 ILS that will be used for research whose goal is to create a unique healthy wine that will be produced in the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee.

“Following the research project I conducted in the framework of my undergraduate degree, I decided to continue to study and to go into greater depth in the subject, in the framework of my master’s degree thesis in biotechnology at Tel-Hai College,” recounts Ron Schweitzer.

 

 “The research is now entering its second year and thanks to partnership with the Galilee Mountain Winery, one of the leading wineries in the country, and the “Beit El” company, an engineering company in the Golan Heights that manufactures ozone chambers, we are examining the impact of a number of agro-tech treatments, performed in vineyards and after harvest, on levels of resveratrol and stilbenoids in grapes used for wine production. The strains used for the research are strains of grapes used to produce red wine: merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.

The concentration of substances and the change in the levels of healthful substances in the grapevines and in the wines are examined in the Tel-Hai College laboratories with a variety of advanced analytical equipment purchased with an investment of a million dollars donated by ICA in Israel charitable foundation.

In later stages, the research will prepare wine from grapes with high levels of resveratrol and stilbenoids and test its organoleptic properties. The goal of the research is to invent and develop a system that will enable the production of healthy wine that will be marketed as a superfood in Israel and around the world.

 

For the digital issue focusing on Food Tech, for the World Food Day 2018