Microbiology Is ... Better Wine Production

March 22, 2021

ASM member Dimitris Tsaltas explains how he uses microbiology to help his partners in the Cyprus wine industry improve their wines.

What's the Issue?

Wine is big business: in 2019, producers shipped more than 3.6 million liters (enough to fill 91,000 bath tubs) in the United States alone, with global sales topping $364 billion. Every step of the winemaking process, from grape growing to fermentation to bottling, inherently relies on microbial scientific techniques. Yet only in the past few decades have winemakers looked to microbiologists as collaborators and partners who can help improve their products (and their profit margins). Facing an increasingly competitive market and the existential threat of climate change, winemakers will increasingly require the expertise and knowledge of microbiologists in order to develop novel yeast and grape strains, as well as refine growing and processing conditions, that will allow their wines to prosper.

How To Get Involved

For microbiologists, the appeal of collaborating with winemakers goes beyond a tasty final product. The fields of oenology and viticulture offer abundant research topics and funding opportunities. Follow the links below to learn about ways to get involved:

About Dimitris Tsaltas

Dimitris Tsaltas, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences, Biotechnology and Food Science at Cyprus University of Technology. Dimitris also serves as the ASM Ambassador for Cyprus. He and his research group collaborate with local Cypriot businesses from the food and beverage industry to help improve the quality of their products, including wines, cheeses and meats. Dimitris lives, breathes and sleeps microbiology.

About the "Microbiology Is ..." Project

The “Microbiology Is ...” project is a new series from ASM in which we’ll highlight how microbiologists around the world work with local, national and international partners to apply laboratory research to real-world issues that directly affect individuals and communities. From the obvious (antibiotics, safe drinking water) to the obscure (wine production), we’ll cover the entire spectrum of applications for microbiology. Through these stories, we want to showcase the human side of science and the true impact microbiology has on society. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to inspire more microbiologists to bring their work out of the lab and into their local communities. Because ultimately, microbiology is for everyone.

Author: Geoff Hunt, Ph.D.

Geoff Hunt, Ph.D.
Geoff Hunt earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Princeton University.