If you love wine, you probably also hate it sometimes —specifically, the next morning. There’s really nothing quite like a wine hangover.
Well, fellow winos, today’s our lucky day: University of Illinois scientists have heard our cry, and have made a discovery that could potentially lead to hangover-free wine. Yes, you read that right.
Through their research, reported in a recent issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, scientists engineered what they call a “jailbreaking” yeast that could not only reduce the toxic by-products in wine that cause your pounding headache, but also boost wine’s health benefits.
To do this, they used an enzyme that functions as a “genome knife,” cutting through multiple copies of a gene. The specific type of yeast in fermented drinks like wine and beer is notoriously difficult to engineer, Yong-Su Jin, a U of I associate professor of microbial genomics and principal investigator in the Energy Biosciences Institute explained in a press release. The reason its so difficult is because they contain multiple copies of a gene — which means that when you alter one, another copy of that same gene will autocorrect the altered one.
By using this enzyme, wine (and presumably other alcoholic beverages?) can be tweaked for maximum health benefits and minimum side effects. (Jin noted this process is different than traditional genetic modification, because it does not include antibiotic markers, which are what make GMOs so controversial and potentially dangerous.)
One specific change Jin noted was the ability to up the amount of resveratrol in wine, which in some studies has shown potential health benefits. “With engineered yeast, we could increase the amount of resveratrol in a variety of wine by 10 times or more,” Jin said.
To specifically nix the toxic byproducts that may cause that nasty hangover, the enzyme could be used to enhance a specific fermentation process, which generates toxic elements when done improperly. Winemakers could also use this scientific advacement to isolate genes that give a specific wine a precise flavor, so it can be replicated to make other amazing bottles and varities.
That’s all very interesting … but really, they had us at “no more hangover.”