Yeast interactions and wine flavour

Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Sep 1;86(1-2):11-22. doi: 10.1016/s0168-1605(03)00245-9.


Wine is the product of complex interactions between fungi, yeasts and bacteria that commence in the vineyard and continue throughout the fermentation process until packaging. Although grape cultivar and cultivation provide the foundations of wine flavour, microorganisms, especially yeasts, impact on the subtlety and individuality of the flavour response. Consequently, it is important to identify and understand the ecological interactions that occur between the different microbial groups, species and strains. These interactions encompass yeast-yeast, yeast-filamentous fungi and yeast-bacteria responses. The surface of healthy grapes has a predominance of Aureobasidium pullulans, Metschnikowia, Hanseniaspora (Kloeckera), Cryptococcus and Rhodotorula species depending on stage of maturity. This microflora moderates the growth of spoilage and mycotoxigenic fungi on grapes, the species and strains of yeasts that contribute to alcoholic fermentation, and the bacteria that contribute to malolactic fermentation. Damaged grapes have increased populations of lactic and acetic acid bacteria that impact on yeasts during alcoholic fermentation. Alcoholic fermentation is characterised by the successional growth of various yeast species and strains, where yeast-yeast interactions determine the ecology. Through yeast-bacterial interactions, this ecology can determine progression of the malolactic fermentation, and potential growth of spoilage bacteria in the final product. The mechanisms by which one species/strain impacts on another in grape-wine ecosystems include: production of lytic enzymes, ethanol, sulphur dioxide and killer toxin/bacteriocin like peptides; nutrient depletion including removal of oxygen, and production of carbon dioxide; and release of cell autolytic components. Cell-cell communication through quorum sensing molecules needs investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Ethanol
  • Fermentation
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Fungi / growth & development
  • Fungi / physiology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Taste*
  • Wine / microbiology*
  • Yeasts / growth & development
  • Yeasts / physiology*


  • Ethanol