Niche markets have been identified which value food and beverage products with low intervention production strategies; that market opportunity was the driving force behind milk producers reverting to permeate free product lines. While wine is already considered a ‘natural product’ by many consumers, methods to support less-processed wines will be investigated at various parts of the wine production chain, including fermentation, clarification and packaging, as well as with sanitation and low-input methods for flavour modulation (marc, oxygen, CO2, eucalyptus). This project will draw on information arising from consumer insights projects, where an evaluation of the drivers for the purchase of less-processed wines will be conducted.
One area of focus will be the evaluation of alternatives to traditional fining agents which are produced from animal sources – gelatine (collagen), egg (albumin), milk (casein) and fish isinglass (collagen). Many of these are potential allergens and winemakers are required by law to state the use of these agents on labels, despite their removal with bentonite. Cost-effective, non-animal sources of fining agents such as yeast or plant-based proteins for wine clarification and phenolics removal would be of long term benefit to the Australian wine industry by removing the need for allergen labelling and potentially reducing production costs.
Another area of focus will be methodologies to produce preservative-free wine products, for which a growing market opportunity exists.