The use of non-Saccharomyces yeasts that are generally considered as spoilage yeasts, in association with Saccharomyces cerevisiae for grape must fermentation was here evaluated. Analysis of the main oenological characteristics of pure cultures of 55 yeasts belonging to the genera Hanseniaspora, Pichia, Saccharomycodes and Zygosaccharomyces revealed wide biodiversity within each genus. Moreover, many of these non-Saccharomyces strains had interesting oenological properties in terms of fermentation purity, and ethanol and secondary metabolite production. The use of four non-Saccharomyces yeasts (one per genus) in mixed cultures with a commercial S. cerevisiae strain at different S. cerevisiae/non-Saccharomyces inoculum ratios was investigated. This revealed that most of the compounds normally produced at high concentrations by pure cultures of non-Saccharomyces, and which are considered detrimental to wine quality, do not reach threshold taste levels in these mixed fermentations. On the other hand, the analytical profiles of the wines produced by these mixed cultures indicated that depending on the yeast species and the S. cerevisiae/non-Saccharomyces inoculum ratio, these non-Saccharomyces yeasts can be used to increase production of polysaccharides and to modulate the final concentrations of acetic acid and volatile compounds, such as ethyl acetate, phenyl-ethyl acetate, 2-phenyl ethanol, and 2-methyl 1-butanol.
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