Often, the biggest challenge for scientists is balancing the desire to bury yourself in research with the need to hunt for funding.
Wine researcher Rocco Longo says being awarded a Wine Australia PhD Scholarship in 2014 was a godsend, allowing him to focus on his core research passion – determining ways to produce more balanced wines with lower alcohol levels – without worrying about money.
‘Winning a Wine Australia scholarship gave me the opportunity to dedicate more time on my project and run all the experiments I needed to succeed. It certainly made my time at Charles Sturt University much more affordable’, said Dr Longo, now a Junior Research Fellow (Oenology) at the University of Tasmania.
Dr Longo said winning the Wine Australia scholarship allowed him to focus on his research passion.
Dr Longo grew up in Italy and completed his BSc and MSc in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Turin.
However, he found it was the Australian wine sector that held his interest.
After working vintages in Piedmont, Italy, Dr Longo decided to take the plunge and move to Australia in 2009 to pursue his dream.
After a stint as an oenologist with Gapsted Wines in the Alpine Valley of Victoria, Dr Longo undertook a PhD with Charles Sturt University at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre in 2014, on lower alcohol production.
‘My studies focused on the chemical impact of blending and dealcoholisation practices on the flavour and taste of lower alcohol wine.
‘My aim was to determine the most appropriate method for producing full flavoured wines with lower alcohol. To achieve this, I explored links between grape harvest timing, wine blending and ethanol removal on wine composition and sensory characteristics.’
Dr Longo said his research discovered that blended wines, and those subject to ethanol removal, retained the most desirable sensory attributes.
Dr Longo said the findings from his research will help wine producers combat the negative effect of increasing alcohol levels in wine due to climate changes.
‘My research provides knowledge on ethanol management strategies for wine making that enable lower alcohol wines to be made with desirable sensory profiles.’
‘It will provide knowledge that may be applied to control or moderate both unripe sensory attributes in addition to a deficiency of ripe fruit aromas or mouth feel characteristics in lower alcohol wines.’
This year, Dr Longo took up a position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the University of Tasmania at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA).
The major focus of his current research is the development of in-line and real time sensing of juice quality for sparkling wine production, and benchmarking of Australian Pinot Noir wines.
Applications for Wine Australia’s PhD and Masters by Research scholarships 2019 close on 2 November.