Sunday, January 1

AP Wire | 12/30/2005 | Professor builds computer models for wine

AP Wire | 12/30/2005 | Professor builds computer models for wine: "PITTSBURGH - Distinguishing fine wine from plonk is usually left to connoisseurs and winemakers, who rely on their senses, rough chemical measurements and the whims of nature to produce an exceptional tipple. But a Carnegie Mellon University professor, working with industry scientists in Chile, is hoping that computer models will identify the traits of good wine to help vintners produce more of it.

Lorenz 'Larry' Biegler, who teaches chemical engineering at the university, is working on mathematical formulas to automate the fermentation process, adjusting ingredients and conditions to ensure robust flavors and higher yields from grape harvests.

Scientists don't fully understand the delicate mix of compounds that emerge during fermentation and why they create such pleasing sensations for wine drinkers. Biegler's research focuses on yeast, which consumes sugar and produces alcohol.

'We would like to come up with a reasonably good model of how this yeast cell behaves ... then control this fermentation process so we can make better-quality wines,' he said.

Much of the work is being carried out at an 'aroma lab' at Pontifical Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, where industry-sponsored researchers are trying to isolate chemicals that produce desirable fragrances and flavors, Biegler said."

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