The scientific study of wine ”The Institute of Enology and Viticulture, Yamanashi University”

The scientific study of wine
”The Institute of Enology and Viticulture, Yamanashi University”

Analysis of wine through ”yeast”. Research unique to wine country.

The scientific study of wine. Famous wine producing areas of the world have many research institutes for wine, but in Japan it’s still rather rare. ”The Institute of Enology and Viticulture, Yamanashi University” is one of them.
We interviewed Professor Fujitoshi Yanagida, who specializes in zymurgy and applied microbiology. In this laboratory, he is analyzing wine through its ”yeast” which promote fermentation of alcohol.

”This is the freezer where we keep the yeasts.” The microbes are kept under the temperature of -80 degrees Celsius, and there are about 2000 strains of lactic acid bacteria, and 2000 strains of yeast.
”I’ve never seen anything like it. The people at wineries explain about the grapes with passion, but this is a different approach and it’s very interesting,” said Nakata. Even for Nakata, who has visited many breweries and wineries in and out of Japan, the scientific research was very new.

Finding ”yeasts” from natural world.

”If we modify the genes, I suppose we can make yeasts that have various effects, such as making the aroma stronger or reducing acidity, but we are looking for yeasts from natural world,” said Prof. Yanagida, and he told us a following episode.

A pharmaceutical company was collecting yeasts from the sea for research of new drugs. The yeasts could not be used for new drugs, but when wine was made with them, it turned out to be a very aromatic and delicious wine, and some yeasts were used for commercial production.
Another research is on the varieties of grapes, and they have developed a hybrid of wild grape vine and Sauvignon called ”Yama Sauvignon”, which was commercialized and is now on sale. A continuous efforts on research and experiments are contributing to the development of wine.

The conversation with Nakata is a part of research? A keen interest.

Prof. Yanagida is also active as a judge in various wine contests. In a contest, he has to taste several dozens of wine and it is, ”a bit tough, to be honest,” he laughed wryly. ”I can’t drink much alcohol in the first place,” he gave a rather astonishing comment.

Then Prof. Yanagida asked Nakata, what kind of wine he liked.
”I like to drink wine with meals. In Italy, people don’t go to bars after dinner, but rather spend three to four hours for dinner and drink wine all the while. So I like wine that goes well with that.” ”I see, that’s another culture.” To what Nakata said, Prof. Yanagida listened very seriously.

It would be worthwhile to keep an eye out for future research results of Prof. Yanagida.


The Institute of Enology and Viticulture, Yamanashi University
13-1, Kitashin 1-chome, Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture