EU scientists may have cracked the Christmas hangover

BRUSSELS Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:35pm IST

A Santa Claus figure is illuminated at a Christmas market in the city centre of Frankfurt December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

A Santa Claus figure is illuminated at a Christmas market in the city centre of Frankfurt December 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU-funded researchers may have found a way to ease your festive hangover by replacing the chemical preservatives in wine that can lead to headaches.

European academics, winemakers and food researchers have discovered two extracts contained within wine to replace sulphur dioxide, a natural chemical which preserves wine but can trigger headaches and asthma attacks in those allergic to it.

"European researchers have made progress towards finding an alternative to adding sulphur dioxide to red wine and other foodstuffs, such as dried fruit, holding out the hope of making future festive seasons healthier for millions," said the European Commission, which contributed 3 million euros to the project that started in 2009.

Consumer tests of the first red wines made using the extracts showed that wine lovers noticed no difference to standard wines.

A project spokesman said they are keeping the names of the extracts secret for now.

Next month, the researchers will uncork another batch of wines bottled in May and if further consumer tests are successful, the licensing process for the product can start.

The project also found ways to replace sulphur dioxide in dried fruits where it is used to prevent them from turning brown or mouldy.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by Paul Casciato)

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