The production of volatile phenols by wine microorganisms

Nelson, Lisha (2008-12)

Thesis (MScAgric (Viticulture and Oenology))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


The production of good quality wine is essential to ensure competitiveness on an international level. Wine quality is usually evaluated for the visual, olfactory and taste characteristics of that specific wine. The winemaking process starts with the grapes in the vineyard followed by oenological practises in the winery until the final wine is bottled. Factors that could influence wine quality include the grape quality from which the wine is made and different techniques used during wine production. Other factors include the presence as well as the interaction between microorganisms found in the grape juice and wine, and the biochemical effect these microorganisms have on certain chemical compounds in the wine. The different microorganisms found in grape juice and wine can either have a negative or positive contribution to the final quality of the wine. During certain stages of the winemaking process the growth and metabolic activity of certain microorganisms is a necessity to produce good wine. During other stages the presence of certain microorganisms can lead to the development of compounds that is regarded as off-flavours and therefore lead to unpalatable wines of low quality. Yeast strains that naturally present on the grapes and in the winery can also contribute to the final quality of the wine. Brettanomyces yeasts are part of the natural flora of winemaking and can drastically influence the aroma characters of a wine through the production of volatile phenols. The general aroma descriptions of volatile phenols include "smoky", "spicy", "barnyard", "animal" and "medicinal". Although some wine drinkers believe that these characters can add to the complexity of a wine, high levels of volatile phenols is mostly regarded as off-flavours and mask the natural fruity flavours of a wine. With this study we wanted to generate a better understanding of the effect of different winemaking practises on the production of volatile phenols by B. bruxellensis. We evaluated the difference in volatile phenol production when B. bruxellensis was introduced before or after alcoholic fermentation. We have shown that B. bruxellensis could grow and produce volatile phenols during alcoholic fermentation. Results obtained also showed that commercial wine yeast strains could produce the vinyl derivatives that serve as precursors for Brettanomyces yeast to produce the ethyl derivatives. The commercial yeast strains differed in their ability to produce vinyl derivatives. Different malolactic fermentation scenarios were evaluated, namely spontaneous versus inoculated, and with or without yeast lees. Results showed that spontaneous malolactic fermentation had higher volatile phenol levels in the wine than inoculated malolactic fermentation. The treatment with lees reduced the level of volatile phenols, probably due to absorption by yeast cells. The presence of the phenyl acrylic decarboxylase (PAD1) gene and the production of volatile phenols by S. cerevisiae commercial yeast strains were evaluated in Shiraz grape juice and in synthetic grape juice. The results indicated that the yeast strains differ in their ability to produce 4-vinylphenol and 4-vinylguaiacol. All the yeast strains tested had the PAD1 gene. We also evaluated the presence of the phenolic acid decarboxylase (padA) gene and the ability of different lactic acid bacteria strains to produce volatile phenols in synthetic wine media. Although some of these strains tested positive for the phenolic acid decarboxylase gene most of them only produced very low levels of volatile phenols. This study made a valuable contribution on the knowledge about the effect of Brettanomyces yeast on the volatile phenol content of red wines during different stages of the winemaking process and when applying different winemaking practices. It also showed the effect between Brettanomyces yeast and other wine microorganisms and the possible influence it could have on the final quality of wine. Research such as this can therefore aid the winemaker in making certain decisions when trying to manage Brettanomyces yeast spoilage of wines.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL:
This item appears in the following collections: