top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Zero-waste winemaking technique means more flavour and taste

How one French researcher's innovative method is using fermentation to unlock flavours normally hidden in the pulp left over from winemaking.

A new way has been discovered to get flavours and perfumes for food and cosmetics out of the pulp left after grapes have been pressed to make wine. Currently, the pulp, called marc in winemaking, is mainly viewed as a waste product. Some winemakers pay to have it taken away by specialist industrial alcohol-makers, who extract the remaining alcohol from it. Others use a complicated process to make compost out of the pulp, which is often too acidic to break down naturally. In some regions, the marc is spread on the ground as a mulch.

The International Garden Festival is just one of the events on in France this month. Find the full cultural calendar here

Giving new flavourful life to wine waste

Alain Etiévant, founder and managing director of Lyon-based research and development company Atelier du Fruit, said: “Our researcher Maxime Haure, who is working towards a doctorate, has found a way, using fermentation, to unlock the flavours which are normally hidden in the marc. We have known for years that 80% of the flavours in fruit are actually blocked and hidden from us but this process, which changes sugars, means we can then taste and smell them.”

According to how the process is tweaked, the extra flavours and perfumes can be very fruity, jammy or flowery. “There has been a move away from the use of synthetic flavours made in laboratories, which is where most flavouring in processed food and perfumes in cosmetics come from,” he said. “We are very excited that we have found a way where our clients, large companies, can say they are using natural products as ingredients.”

Foire aux Vins 2020 is a seven-week French wine fair, and this year, heavy discounts due to Covid-19 are expected

Investing in zero-waste practices

He said there has been most interest in industrialising the process from cosmetics companies. “The investment for an industrial unit is quite large – you need a closed fermentation vessel where you can control the temperature, oxygen levels and other things and then extract the molecules you want,” he said. “Margins in the food industry are much tighter than in cosmetics and so it is there that the first industrial units will be put in place, probably in the next year or two.”

Rosé wine is the most 'Instagrammable' of all French tipples; but what is behind its rise in popularity?

As well as grape pulp, other waste material, such as tomato skins from canning factories or apple peel from factories making fruit purées, can be subject to the same process. “You don’t think of tomato skins as having wonderful smells and flavours locked away in them, but they do – you just have to free them,” said Mr Etiévant. The residue left after the fermentation process can be used as a compost.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now