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Pulsed electric field processing as an alternative to sulfites

 

The use of sulfites (SO2) for microbial control in the winemaking process is currently being questioned due to its potential toxicity. Pulsed Electric Fields (PEF) are capable of inactivating microorganisms at low temperatures, thus avoiding the negative effects of heat on food properties.

In a study published on Food Research International journal, Spanish researchers evaluated the capacity of PEF technology for the decontamination of yeasts involved in the fermentation process of Chardonnay wine from a winery. PEF treatments at 15 kV/cm of low (65 micros, 35 kJ/kg) and higher intensity (177 micros 97 kJ/kg) were selected for evaluating the microbial stability, physicochemical and volatile composition of wine. Even with the least intense PEF-treatment, Chardonnay wine remained yeast-free during 4 months of storage without sulfites. PEF-treatments did not affect the wine’s oenological parameters or its aroma during storage.

This study, therefore, reveals the potential of PEF technology as an alternative to sulfites for the microbiological stabilization of wine.

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