Buy wine and become a genetic analyst

Fancy a bit of DNA analysis for your Friday night? Buy wine, sit back, and do some genome decoding with your taste buds.

Scientists at the University of Adelaide are working to reveal the links between the genetics of grapes, and the characteristics of our favourite wines.

Associate professor Christopher Ford of the university's School of Agriculture, Food and Wine explains that the association between the two may be closer than many people realise.

"The complexity of plants is easily overlooked when we're enjoying a glass of wine," the project leader says.

"But every part of the vine and the grape, each final attribute of flavour, colour and aroma ... all of these represent the outcomes of the coordinated expression - switching on or off - of sometimes thousands of individual genes."

How does this affect you when you buy wine from your local independent wine merchant? It might not have a huge impact right now, but in the years ahead it could help to keep the shelves stocked during adverse weather events.

For instance, Professor Ford says genetic understanding of grapes could allow vines to be cultured that are more resistant to salinity or pests or drought.

In turn, the wines produced from their fruit should be more consistent, with better overall flavour - which, after all, is what most wine drinkers are really looking for.

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