Colony counting and DEFT did not give the same results when wine micro-organisms were enumerated. Both methods were used to monitor the population of acetic acid bacteria (AAB) and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) during wine storage. Results suggest that part of the populations had reached a viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state. These cells were unable to produce colonies but could hydrolyse fluorescent esters and could be counted by DEFT. For AAB, O2 deprivation quickly induced this state. Recovery from this state was very rapid as soon as O2 was available. The response was not so clear for LAB during wine storage. However, a similar state was induced by sulfiting. Moreover, filtration of wine stored in barrels and contaminated by Brettanomyces, AAB and LAB demonstrated that cell size was not homogeneous. Cells which remained in wine after several weeks could pass through a 0.45-microm membrane. However, when they re-entered a growing phase, they were again retained by membrane filtration. During and after the decline phase, wine micro-organisms might survive as smaller cells in a VBNC state.