If there is anything that can unite us, it is our love of beer. Beer is the most-preferred alcoholic beverage in the United States, and is also preferred over other types of alcohol in Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, and various other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Wine also has a strong showing. The Census reports that wine consumption is up 2.5 gallons per capita, up from half a gallon in 2000, and 28 percent of Americans list wine as their favorite alcoholic drink. Americans also love bread, though it may go unheralded for most of us. Flour and cereal products are third in food categories that we eat, after dairy products and eggs. These are all made possible by yeast.

The oldest known yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which humans have been using for over 9,000 years. Although the yeast is not used as often today it still has its place the production of wine, beer and bread. Interestingly though, young grapes do not naturally have the yeast, even though one in four ripe, damaged grapes do. So how did yeast get there? Where does it come from?

Researchers from Italy and France tracked the fermentation process and the role that social wasps play in it. They found that yeast can survive in wasps' stomachs. Queen wasps, in particular, can hibernate with the substance, allowing the yeast to survive from the fall into spring. The queens will then pass on the substance to their offspring. Then, just as bees are responsible for the pollenating of flowers, wasps will spread yeast in the wild. Researchers can also connect 17 wasp regions to over 230 yeast strains.

That's right – the fermentation process of the yeast in wines, beers, and bread began in the gut of wasps.

The results of the study were published in Proceedings of the National Aacademy of Sciences of the United States of America journal.