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Keywords:

  • Fructose utilisation;
  • Fructophilic yeast;
  • Glucophilic yeast;
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
  • Wine yeast;
  • Wine fermentation

Abstract

While unfermented grape must contains approximately equal amounts of the two hexoses glucose and fructose, wine producers worldwide often have to contend with high residual fructose levels (>2 g l−1) that may account for undesirable sweetness in finished dry wine. Here, we investigate the fermentation kinetics of glucose and fructose and the influence of certain environmental parameters on hexose utilisation by wine yeast. Seventeen Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains, including commercial wine yeast strains, were evaluated in laboratory-scale wine fermentations using natural Colombard grape must that contained similar amounts of glucose and fructose (approximately 110 g l−1 each). All strains showed preference for glucose, but to varying degrees. The discrepancy between glucose and fructose utilisation increased during the course of fermentation in a strain-dependent manner. We ranked the S. cerevisiae strains according to their rate of increase in GF discrepancy and we showed that this rate of increase is not correlated with the fermentation capacity of the strains. We also investigated the effect of ethanol and nitrogen addition on hexose utilisation during wine fermentation in both natural and synthetic grape must. Addition of ethanol had a stronger inhibitory effect on fructose than on glucose utilisation. Supplementation of must with assimilable nitrogen stimulated fructose utilisation more than glucose utilisation. These results show that the discrepancy between glucose and fructose utilisation during fermentation is not a fixed parameter but is dependent on the inherent properties of the yeast strain and on the external conditions.