This study investigated the competition and potential hybrid generation between the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. kudriavzevii in a wine-model environment. Our main goal was to understand why S. kudriavzevii has not been found in wine fermentations whilst their hybrids are present. Auxotrophic mutants (Ura− and Lys−) were used to favour the selection of hybrids and to specifically differentiate the two species in mixed fermentations carried out at different temperatures (17 °C, 24 °C and 31 °C). Both yeasts showed a reduction in their maximum specific growth rates in mixed fermentations, indicating a clear antagonistic effect between the two microorganisms. Temperature played an important role in this competition. In this way, S. kudriavzevii was less affected at 17 °C, but S. cerevisiae was clearly the best competitor at 31 °C, preventing the growth of S. kudriavzevii. Population levels of S. kudriavzevii always significantly decreased in the presence of S. cerevisiae. Ethanol was measured throughout the fermentations and in all cases S. kudriavzevii growth was arrested when ethanol levels were < 5 g/l, indicating that this compound did not influence the competitive exclusion of S. kudriavzevii. Killer factors were also discarded due to the K− R− phenotype of both strains. Finally, no prototrophic interspecific hybrids were isolated in small-scale fermentations at any temperature assayed. Our results show that the lack of competitiveness exhibited by S. kudriavzevii, especially at high temperatures, explains the absence of this species in wine fermentations, suggesting that natural S. cerevisiae × S. kudriavzevii hybrids most likely originated in wild environments rather than in industrial fermentations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.