BACKGROUND: Wine is a natural antimicrobial, and scientists at Oregon State University are developing a new disinfectant containing wine to fight off microbes like bacteria. Dry white wines, such as sauvignon blancs or chardonnays, work best because they don't leave a stain or sticky residue.
ABOUT ANTIMICROBIALS: "Antimicrobial" is a word that describes both natural and man-made substances, including antibiotics and disinfectants, that can kill or slow down the growth of bacteria and viruses and other microorganisms. Sometimes microorganisms can develop a resistance over time to an antimicrobial substance, however, so that it no longer stops microbes from growing. Naturally occurring alternatives could help address this problem.
WHY IT WORKS: We've all heard advice from seasoned travelers that it's often better to drink the wine than the water in a foreign country. There is some truth to the adage. Wine drinkers, for example, rarely suffer from food poisoning, such as salmonella (the leading cause of food poisoning). The wine's natural acids combine with its alcohol content to kill bacteria. The OSU scientists discovered it also kills bacteria on a kitchen counter, for example. As an added benefit, using wine as an anti-microbial, or as a natural food preservative, cuts down on the amount of chemicals in the environment, and on the long and costly development process for chemically based food preservatives.
The American Society for Microbiology contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.