Yeasts associated to Traditional Balsamic Vinegar: ecological and technological features

Int J Food Microbiol. 2008 Jun 30;125(1):36-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2007.06.022. Epub 2007 Sep 4.


Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (TBV) is an Italian homemade vinegar made with cooked grape must through a three-step process: conversion of sugars to ethanol by naturally occurring yeasts; oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid by acetic acid bacteria (AAB); and, finally, at least 12-years ageing. The cooked must is a selective and stressful medium for yeasts growth, due to its high sugar content and low pH values. Recent studies have shown that a large number of yeast species are involved in the fermentation, among them there are Zygosaccharomyces bailii, Zygosaccharomyces rouxii, Zygosaccharomyces pseudorouxii, Zygosaccharomyces mellis, Zygosaccharomyces bisporus, Zygosaccharomyces lentus, Hanseniaspora valbyensis, Hanseniaspora osmophila, Candida lactis-condensi, Candida stellata, Saccharomycodes ludwigii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nevertheless, the TBV-associated yeast population could be even more complex and many other slow-growing or poorly cultivable species might contribute to cooked must fermentation. In this review the main TBV yeast species are described, pointing out their role in TBV production and their influence on final product quality. Finally, both future developments in TBV yeast community studies (culture-independent and metagenomic techniques) and technological advances in TBV making (use of starter culture) are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid / metabolism*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Ecosystem
  • Fermentation*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Yeasts / growth & development
  • Yeasts / metabolism
  • Yeasts / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Acetic Acid