American scientists are developing a Chardonnay-based spray disinfectant after proving wine kills E.coli, salmonella and staphylococcus.

Microbiologists Mark Daeschel and Jessica Just at Oregon State University discovered that wine – and especially white wine – inactivated virulent bugs (called pathogens) like E.coli (pictured) and salmonella, staphylococcus and klebsiella.

According to the journal of the American Society of Microbiology, the pair put the germs in a model stomach containing gastric juices and food materials, and added Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Within 60 minutes E.coli was inactivated. Salmonella was killed within ten to 30 minutes, and other experiments showed the wines were also lethal to the other pathogens.

It is not the alcohol in wine that kills the germs, the scientists discovered.

Finding that unfermented grape juice had no effect on the pathogens, the scientists managed to isolate the properties in wine that killed the bugs. They found it is the malic and tartaric acid that kill bacteria, rather than anything present in the alcohol.

Because white wines have more acid then red, they are more efficient at killing bacteria, Daeschel said.

‘People who drink wine with meals may protect themselves from food poisoning,’ the ASM journal says.

Daeschel has now formulated a wine-based spray disinfectant which kills bacteria as efficiently as hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants. This has the added attraction of being a biodegradable, natural alternative to commercial cleaners, and could be produced from waste wine.

American Society for Microbiology

picture courtesy Marine Biological Laboratory

Written by Adam Lechmere22 October 2002