A pioneering study analyzed the microbiota in the mouths of wine tasters

They also found that the microbiome is different depending on the type of wine.

What effect does wine have on a taster's mouth? What makes you so special and sensitive to different types of wine? A pioneering study led by researchers from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto (FCUP) sought to answer these questions and concluded that there is a cleaning effect of alcohol with a consequence: tasters are more exposed to opportunistic and pathogenic microorganisms.

“The differences in microbial diversity between wine tasters and non-tasters showed a possible alcohol washing effect, due to the decrease of microorganisms in samples collected after a wine tasting”, begins by explaining Albano Beja-Pereira, a professor at FCUP and a of the study authors.

The researchers concluded that the consumption of certain types of food, for example bitter and astringent, alters the microbial community on the back of the tongue and the pH of the mouth and modifies the conditions in favor of some species of bacteria.

And the more years of career, the lower the number of bacteria in the mouth. “In our study, we observed that the number of tastings and the length of the taster's career are correlated with the low diversity of the microbiome”, adds another researcher from the BIOPOLIS/CIBIO-InBIO Association (Research Center for Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO Laboratório Associate of the University of Porto).

In addition, they also found that the microbiome is different depending on the type of wine. “Sparkling wine tasters are even more affected because they lose this diversity faster”, he adds.

This work was promoted by researcher Sofia Duarte-Coimbra, then a student at FCUP in the Master's Degree in Consumption and Nutrition Sciences, shared with the Faculty of Food and Nutrition Sciences of the U.Porto.

The young woman made contact with enologists, wine tasters and sommeliers and the study sample focused on the North and Center of the country. A sample was collected by scraping the back of the tongue before and after a wine tasting.

They also realized, in the study, that there is a bacteria that can explain a greater sensitivity to taste. Actinomyces bacteria are most abundant in the mouths of wine tasters.

O paper published in January of this year in the magazine Food Research International it thus takes the first steps towards a more extensive work to understand whether this cleaning effect is only related to alcohol or if it applies to other types of drinks. These studies are part of a broader work.

The team is investigating the role of the microbiota (a set of microorganisms specific to a given organ or location on the human body) in sensitivity and sensory perception (taste and smell), their interconnection with professional activity (tasters, chefs, perfume testers), influence of diet and health (oral, nasal).