Wasps: The Wine Lover's Best Friend?

The insects leave behind yeast from their guts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2012 4:03 PM CDT
Wasps: The Wine Lover's Best Friend?
"Wasps are indeed one of wine lovers' best friends," says researcher Cuccio Cavalieri.   (Shutterstock)

Wasps: What are they good for, again? Wine-making, for one thing. Scientists say that wine drinkers can thank wasps and hornets for the complex aroma and taste of their favorite vino, NPR reports. The insects help by biting grapes on the vine and leaving behind yeast from their guts that spurs fermentation. This is partly why winemakers have planted flowers near their vines since Roman times—to attract various insects.

Winemakers could always add yeast later, but wine would taste different without the yeast and microorganisms that wasps leave behind. "One of the most beautiful things of wine is the fact that basically it's complex; it's made of several parts and it communicates to several parts of your brain," says lead researcher Duccio Cavalieri. He also loves how the discovery reveals the interconnectedness of the natural world, and tells him "it's crucial to look at conservation and the study of biodiversity." (More wine stories.)

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