The first UV-treated wine is set to be released later this year following successful trials in South Africa.
The wine, produced by L’Ormarins wine estate in Franschhoek, is treated by a UV (Ultra Violet) light machine that, according to the owners, kills unwanted microbes and yeasts. This, says cellar master Neil Patterson, reduces the need to add sulphites during the winemaking process.
Some wine drinkers blame sulphites for allergic reactions as well as headaches and skin reddening following even the smallest sip of wine.
The Surepure machine – roughly the size of two fridge freezers – has two 40ml pipes to carry wine in and out. The machine contains 40 ‘turbulators’ which mix the liquid to ensure all of it is exposed to the UV lamps.
It takes around 22 seconds for the wine to travel through the machine, which can process 4,000 litres in an hour. The UV rays zap unwanted microbes and yeasts. Winemakers can use the machine numerous times during the production process.
‘You don’t get that sulphury taste, just a more natural, full flavour,’ said Patterson.
He would not reveal which variety of wine would be sold using the new technique, saying it was still confidential.
Written by Ian Evans in Cape Town