The influence of yeast on the aroma of Sauvignon Blanc wine

Jan H. Swiegers, Robyn L. Kievit, Tracey Siebert, Kate A. Lattey, Belinda R. Bramley, I. Leigh Francis, Ellena S. King, Isak S. Pretorius*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Citations (Scopus)


The main objective of this study was to investigate the effect of different Saccharomyces cerevisiae wine yeast strains on the concentration of aroma-enhancing volatile thiols and fermentation metabolites in Sauvignon Blanc wine. Seven commercial wine yeast strains were selected based on their putative ability to modulate the concentrations of the fruity volatile thiols, 4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one (4MMP), 3-mercapto-hexanol (3MH) and 3-mercapto-hexylacetate (3MHA). Each of these yeasts was used to produce Sauvignon Blanc wines under controlled conditions, in triplicate, in 20-L quantities. The levels of 4MMP, 3MH and 3MHA in these wines were quantified using the p-hydroxymercuribenzoate method. In addition, a total of 24 volatile yeast-derived fermentation aroma compounds were also quantified using headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS). Formal sensory analysis was conducted by 12 trained assessors and, additionally, a panel of 24 experienced wine industry professionals assessed the wines and ranked them in order of preference. The results indicated that the yeast strains varied significantly in terms of their capabilities to (i) produce volatile thiols and fermentation metabolites; and (ii) to modulate the varietal characters of Sauvignon Blanc wine. Yeast strains that produced the highest levels of volatile thiols were responsible for wines with the highest perceived intensity of fruitiness, and these wines were preferred by the tasting panels. While the 'green' characters in Sauvignon Blanc wines can be manipulated through vineyard management, the 'tropical fruity' characters appear to be largely dependent on the wine yeast strain used during fermentation. Therefore, the choice of yeast strain offers great potential to modulate wine aroma profiles to definable styles and predetermined consumer market specifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-211
Number of pages8
JournalFood Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

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    Swiegers, J. H., Kievit, R. L., Siebert, T., Lattey, K. A., Bramley, B. R., Francis, I. L., ... Pretorius, I. S. (2009). The influence of yeast on the aroma of Sauvignon Blanc wine. Food Microbiology, 26(2), 204-211.