Project E! 4008 PROVINO came into being after a conversation over a glass of wine made Bernd Diehl- the 48-year-old co-owner of a German chemical analysis company called Spectral Service- think of a method to preserve the good by-products of wine.
He proposed his company develop a method to turn the by-products into a powder preserving as many of the natural, healthy properties of wine as possible - the proteins, B vitamins, minerals and polyphenols, which are thought to prevent heart or circulation diseases, inflammation and thrombosis.
He decided to partner Spectral with the larger Technologie-Transfer-Zentrum (TTZ), German specialists in product development, and the pair successfully applied to carry out their research as a EUREKA project.
Besides developing wine powder, they also wanted to test their powders in different kinds of products - in both food and drink, as well as in make-up-where Spanish natural cosmetics company Alfaverde Productos Naturales was keen to help.
"We didn't just want to extract the nutrients from red wine and press them into pills. We worked from the principle that if omega-3-fatty acids are good for you it's better to eat fish than to swallow a -supplement. By adding red wine powder to products we also wanted to keep some of the taste and colour of red wine," said ProVino's project leader Gabriele Randel.
In their two-year research programme the researchers drove up and down Germany, collecting wine material from vineyards in the Mosel, the Rheinland-Pfalz , the Ahr and many more.
They delivered the material to TTZ whose team carried out drying experiments, producing different powders, which were sent to Spectral for chemical analysis.
Pro Vino partners felt that earlier drying methods lost a lot of the natural nutrients or required adding preservatives and artificial substrates to create a stable powder.
"We developed a gentle drying process which did not use much heat in order to not destroy ingredients," said Randel.
After hitting on powders, which contained high amounts of nutrients, including a high dose of protein and polyphenols, they set out to find the tastiest combinations in food and the best uses in cosmetics.
While all the products were not successful, the experiments showed the powders' strengths and limitations.
"In some products the powder is too acidic and it wasn't nice. In others, the fruity taste of the grapes in combination with the acidic effect is refreshing," said Randel.
Randel's personal favourites were yoghurt drinks and other dairy products, like ice cream, and pastries, cakes and chocolates.
Skin creams using the powder were more effective than red to violet eye-shadow and some wine properties could be good for the skin, including having anti-wrinkle effects.
And the successful products they developed and tested have convinced the team that the ProVino product could be attractive to health-conscious consumers.