If you have ever thought about what microscopy, vinology, and viticulture have in common, feel free to check the following article for more information. There are many things a winemaker can do to improve his or her harvest, and using a dissection microscope magnification range that can identify yeast, fungi, and other microorganisms can be of great help. Let’s see how the use of a microscope plays into vinology and viticulture.
What is vinology?
From the terms above, this might make you wonder what it is all about. In short, vinology is described as the study of wine and winemaking. It is also called enology with the variation oenology, as you can mostly find it in many scientific papers. It is different from viticulture, and it focuses on the process of winemaking.
While you can find oenologists without any scientific degree, this discipline is gaining ground more and more, and there are schools offering specialized studies. Others simply have degrees in microbiology, chemistry, biology, and related fields.
What is viticulture?
This is the name given to the discipline that deals with the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. As you can see, while viticulture takes care of identifying the best grapes to use for making wine, vinology is the discipline that takes things further by focusing on the process of winemaking.
It is a viticulturist’s job to identify and stop pests and diseases that can affect the grapes and their production. Also, any aspect related to fertilization, harvest management, and so on, falls into what can be called his or her duty.
Both viticulture and vinology can make great use of microscopy, as we will show right away. There are many ways in which identifying microorganisms with the help of a microscope can influence what decisions oenologists and viticulturists take to perform their jobs more successfully.
What can winemakers do with a microscope?
The most legitimate question in the context of this topic is what oenologists and viticulturists can do with such a tool. One use that comes to mind is this: winemakers can use a microscope to identify various bacteria, fungi, or yeast that grow on their cultures or in the wine they make.
Also, you can use it so that you can set apart bacteria and other microorganisms from debris and other particles that are none of them. Furthermore, a microscope can identify small issues before they become significant for your wine harvest.
What kind of microscopes can be used in vinology and viticulture?
Since there are plenty of various microscopes available on the market, you most certainly want to know what kind of unit would be a good fit for your purpose. Experts recommend a model with good quality optics and phase contrast as one of the features.
Microscopes with varying magnification between 100x and 1000x are a good option. They may come with objective lenses that go from 10x to 100x, while the eyepiece has a magnification of 10x. What you must bear in mind is that models with 100x objective lenses need to use oil immersion.
With the help of this type of immersion, the resolution can be enhanced tremendously. Seeing how you need to observe various microorganisms that grow on the leaves or the surface of the grapes, you will want your microscope to have as better a resolution as possible.
How can you tell the difference between yeast, bacteria, and mold?
The role of microscopy in viticulture and vinology is paramount. As a winemaker, you will need to establish what bacteria or other microorganisms develop on your crops. Here is a short guide on how to tell the difference between yeast, bacteria, and mold.
For starters, mold is easy to examine at 100x magnification. This means that it is the largest of the three, and you should notice it with the naked eye when it grows out of control. Of course, you don’t want to get there, and that’s why you use a microscope, to stop such problems from outgrowing your abilities to stop them.
Yeast is smaller than mold, and you will need a microscope with a 400x magnification. Bacteria are the smallest of the three, and to be sure that you are looking at them, you will need a microscope with 1000x magnification.
Whether you examine a sample, make sure that you have references nearby. What you need in the least is to mistake various microorganisms for one another. Just like in the case of the human body, some of these are good while others are malign. Since wine is obtained through a fermentation process, you need to set apart the good yeast from bad strains.
How to tell living microorganisms apart from debris
Since you must identify the living microorganisms developing in the wine with the help of a microscope, one challenge sticks out more than any other. Trying to tell apart debris from actual living things is not an easy task, and you need some knowledge by your side.
The first principle to abide by is that living things tend to be symmetric. Debris is not symmetric, usually, and that’s why you should be able to tell it apart from the rest. Nonetheless, that is not the only principle to apply. Other structures like crystals, air bubbles, and even dead cells, are also symmetric.
Debris comes from plant cells and you may be able to tell it is not living organisms, by how it clumps together and has frayed edges. Even in fermenting wine, you might see dead cells, and those are the most difficult to tell apart from those that are still alive.
A microscope can be the right tool in the hands of someone who knows a bit about vinology and viticulture. As you can see, there are plenty of applications for microbiology in these disciplines, and the success of your harvest can depend on identifying in a timely fashion problems such as mold or irregular yeast production.
So don’t let your success as an oenologist or viticulturist to chance and take advantage of what microscopy can offer you in terms of tools and knowledge of various microorganisms.