Nowadays, there is a growing awareness that light has a negative effect on the quality of wines, causing changes in aroma and colour. This problem mainly affects clear or transparent bottled wines such as whites, rosés and sparkling wines, diminishing their fruity and citric aromas and increasing undesirable aromas. Deterioration of wines occurs when they are exposed to conventional ultraviolet-visible light.
Until now, the tendency has been to illuminate cellars with orange lighting to avoid the electromagnetic spectrum that catalyses the riboflavin alteration phenomenon. This molecule, known as vitamin B2, is the cause of the negative effects on the aroma and colour of wines, precursor and responsible for the taste of light.
In order to combat the problems generated by light, the RETASTELED R&D project has been developed, led by the Ramón Bilbao winery in La Rioja and in collaboration with the Martín Codax winery, the Prilux Iluminación Group and Vitec (Wine Technology Centre). The Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN), through the State Innovation Agency, is funding this innovative initiative with a budget of more than €750,000, within the framework of the 2017 Call for Collaboration Challenges.
Prilux’s role in the project is aimed at finding new technologies and replacing conventional sodium lamps in warehouses and distribution channels with a new LED type installation. The development of new light sources that do not emit at the critical wavelengths for riboflavin reduction (between 370 or 442 nm) is essential.
RETASTELED is being carried out over a period of three years, during which time the lamps are being replaced with Prilux LED technology. Laboratory analyses are carried out at a pre-determined frequency on samples selected throughout the project duration. The samples are exposed to different types of light for subsequent tasting and analysis by Vitec.
It is true that the deterioration in aroma and colour is often unnoticeable by some consumers, but the installation of this new model of luminaires, both in the winery and on the sales shelves of the distribution channel, will bring numerous benefits to the wine industry. LED technology benefits the installations by reducing energy consumption with the same level of lighting, which is directly reflected in a reduction of the economic cost. It also helps to contribute to improving the environmental impact of the lighting industry.
The project is a current technological challenge and is expected to be completed by December 2021. A good resolution of the current problems with conventional lighting can achieve a better positioning of the Spanish wine industry at an international level.