Louis Pasteur

On the 23rd of January 1860, The Cobden–Chevalier Treaty, an Anglo-French free trade agreement, was signed between Great Britain and France. This treaty ended tariffs on a range of items, including silk, wine, and brandy from France and industrial goods, coal, iron from Britain. This treaty drastically advanced the opportunity to export wine from France. But it turned into a national crisis when most of the wines sold were spoiled. They were cloudy, slimy, and bitter and became known as maladies.

This situation constituted a threat to the French economy and reputation. In 1863, Napoleon III, the emperor of France, commissioned Louis Pasteur to find a cure.

First, Pasteur examined the spoiled wine and established that the wine cloudiness was due to a specific vine illness. He formulated a strategy to fight the diseases and heated the wine at 55°C-60°C. At this temperature, unwanted organisms were killed. This significantly extended the shelf life of wine. The wine did not deteriorate and its bouquet was maintained. This method has now become known as pasteurization and is extremely common throughout the beverage industry. In this way, Pasteur saved the French wine industry and export from complete collapse.

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

Pasteur used this machine to cool and ferment beer

Louis Pasteur was born on the 27th of December 1822 in Dole, France. His father was a tanner of leather and his family was poor. He was an ordinary student, but brilliant at painting and sketched portraits of his family members. He had completed his Bachelor of Science and Arts and a Doctorate in Science by the age of 25. The following year, he became a chemistry professor at the University of Strasbourg.

A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.

Louis Pasteur

In 1854, he became a professor and the dean of faculty of science at the University of Lille. In 1856, he was commissioned by M. Bigot to investigate what was spoiling his beetroot alcohol. After examining samples under his microscope, Pasteur found that both spherical yeasts and rod-shaped microorganisms were present in the alcohol. This microorganism, Acetobacter aceti, converts alcohol to acetic acid.

Also read:

Pasteur carried out experiments on alcoholic and lactic acid fermentation that resulted in the conclusion that fermentation is not a spontaneous reaction due to enzymes as was commonly thought at that time. Rather, it was a result of these microorganisms. On the 20th of April 1862, Pasteur performed his test of boiling and then cooling wine to kill undesired bacteria.

Pasteur did not only assist the wine industry with his findings, but he also helped rescue the silk industry and invented vaccines for Rabies and Anthrax. His work has seen him named the Father of Immunity.
Pasteur’s family used to have vineyards that they used to make wine for their personal use. In 1878, Pasteur purchased a vineyard and constructed a laboratory too. He extended the vineyard to nearly half a hectare by 1892, three years before his death.

According to Pasteur,

Wine is the most health I ful and most hygienic of beverages

Want to read more? Try these books!

Louis Pasteur, Louis PasteurLouis Pasteur, Louis Pasteur

Categories: This Day in Wine History | ArticlesTags: By Published On: October 30, 2022

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!