Abstract: The question if the “Brett character” is a favorable wine attribute is one of the most controversial issues and it is currently addressed by many researches. Actually, the presence of Brettanomyces/Dekkera in wine during barrel aging is often associated to detrimental organoleptic characteristics depending on the release of volatile phenols (for example, 4-ethylphenol and 4-ethylguaiacol); for that reason the possibility to rapidly detect the yeast at the early stage of wine production could allow preventive actions to reduce wine spoilage. In this work, 25 and 5 samples from conventional and organic vineyards, respectively, all suspected to be spoiled by Brettanomyces/Dekkera spp., were analyzed using both culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques. In particular, a DNA extraction protocol and a real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay to directly detect and quantify B. bruxellensis were optimized. Results showed that B. bruxellensis was present in 22 of 30 samples, ranging from 10 to 104 CFU/mL, lower values being found in organic wines (10 to 102 CFU/mL). Overall, qPCR was proved to be a useful and valuable wine control system, since 12 samples were recorded as positive for yeast presence when analyzed by qPCR and negative in case of plate count analyses.
Practical Application: Brettanomyces cells were detected using a qPCR method, optimized in this study, which allows to obtain results quickly.