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Two Decades of “Horse Sweat” Taint and Brettanomyces Yeasts in Wine: Where do We Stand Now?

Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food Research Centre (LEAF), Instituto Superior de Agronomia, University of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
Beverages 2018, 4(2), 32;
Received: 19 February 2018 / Revised: 12 March 2018 / Accepted: 4 April 2018 / Published: 10 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beverage Sensory Modification)
PDF [739 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


The unwanted modification of wine sensory attributes by yeasts of the species Brettanomyces bruxellensis due to the production of volatile phenols is presently the main microbiological threat to red wine quality. The effects of ethylphenols and other metabolites on wine flavor is now recognized worldwide and the object of lively debate. The focus of this review is to provide an update of the present knowledge and practice on the prevention of this problem in the wine industry. Brettanomyces bruxellensis, or its teleomorph, Dekkera bruxellensis, are rarely found in the natural environment and, although frequently isolated from fermenting substrates, their numbers are relatively low when compared with other fermenting species. Despite this rarity, they have long been studied for their unusual metabolical features (e.g., the Custers effect). Rising interest over the last decades is mostly due to volatile phenol production affecting high quality red wines worldwide. The challenges have been dealt with together by researchers and winemakers in an effective way and this has enabled a state where, presently, knowledge and prevention of the problem at the winery level is readily accessible. Today, the main issues have shifted from technological to sensory science concerning the effects of metabolites other than ethylphenols and the over estimation of the detrimental impact by ethylphenols on flavor. Hopefully, these questions will continue to be tackled together by science and industry for the benefit of wine enjoyment. View Full-Text
Keywords: wine; spoilage; Brettanomyces; Dekkera; volatile phenols; off-flavors wine; spoilage; Brettanomyces; Dekkera; volatile phenols; off-flavors

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Malfeito-Ferreira, M. Two Decades of “Horse Sweat” Taint and Brettanomyces Yeasts in Wine: Where do We Stand Now? Beverages 2018, 4, 32.

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