Wine testing cup. Picture from the "Dictionnaire encyclopdique de l'picerie et des industries annexes" by Albert Seigneurie, published by "L'picier", 1904, page 258. Public domain; click for source.

Have you noticed that wine seems to be packing more punch? Well, it's not your imagination. Over the past 20 years, wine really has been getting stronger for some reasons that may surprise you. And it's not a phenomenon that vintners are happy about. They would like to get those alcohol levels down.

As a result, a team of scientists in Australia have begun bioprospecting for wild yeast -- the microbes that turns grape juice into wine -- that may be able to help winemakers solve their dilemma in a way that could also add interesting new complexity to wine. My latest article for Scientific American online news details this story. Check it out!