Study shows feasibility of using DNA for wine traceability

Wine is one of the most adulterated products worldwide, but team of Italian researchers reckons DNA could be used to ensure what is on the label ends up in the bottle.

While other studies have looked at doing this, so far the focus has been under lab conditions, at small production scales, and usually on wine from a single grape variety.

The scientists from Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Piacenza have tried to go further, including both a single grape variety and multi-variety wine and sampling throughout the supply chain of a large cooperative production facility  - Terre d’Oltrepò – located in Italy's Oltrepò Pavese region.

Samples were taken from the point at which grapes were delivered to the producer, after crushing and fermentation, and from the pre-bottled and bottled wine.

"The goal of the present research was to demonstrate the feasibility of wine traceability, not in the laboratory but under field conditions in the uncontrolled conditions of a big cooperative winery," write the researchers in the journal Food Control.

It was possible to identify the grape cultivar for both types of wine throughout the supply chain, despite challenging production processes including racking, filtration and thermovinification (raising crushed grapes to high temperatures before fermentation).

It was a little more difficult to identify cultivars with the multi-variety wine – but still feasible – particularly if the proportion of the grape varieties entering the production process was unknown.

After prolonged storage of wine in tanks or bottles, the breakdown of DNA made identifying the cultivar much more challenging, but the researchers say that could be tackled by modifying the methods used for extracting DNA from samples.

The research can be accessed here.

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