In recent years, significant efforts to produce healthier wines has led to the replacement or reduction of the addition of sulfites, using alternative substances or techniques. Resveratrol and related biophenols seem to be of great interest, since beyond their protective nature and contrary to sulfites they can positively affect consumer health. These bioactive phytochemicals are naturally produced in grapes as evolutionary acquired mechanisms against pathogens and UV irradiation. However, despite the efforts made so far attempting to develop economic and industrially adopted isolation techniques, available quantities of these biophenols for commercial use are still quite limited. Therefore, such molecules are still not able to meet the needs of industrial use due to their prohibitive marketable cost. In this review we summarize the efforts that have been made to biosynthesize these molecules through alternative, innovative ways. Increasing interest in modern biotechnological approaches has shed light on the exploitation of metabolically engineered microbial factories, instead of plants, to produce molecules of industrial interest. Such approaches, also reviewed here, are expected to lower the cost and appear promising to produce enough surplus to attract further oenological experimentation upon yielding functional wines. This development is expected to attract further industrial attention, continuing the race to partially or totally replace the external addition of sulfites. We also review important physicochemical properties of resveratrol in relation to enriching wines.
Keywords: antioxidant; functional wine; health effects; metabolic engineering; resveratrol; sulfites; sulfur dioxide; wine making.