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J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Apr 23;51(9):2584-90.

Impact of oxygen consumption by yeast lees on the autolysis phenomenon during simulation of wine aging on lees.

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Unité Mixte de Recherches, Sciences pour l'Oenologie, INRA-ENSAM-UMI, 2 place Viala, F-34060 Montpellier Cedex 1, France.


Potential oxygen consumption by lees, more precisely by nonviable yeasts, during wine aging was recently described. Additionally, yeast autolysis is described as the main mechanism of degradation of lees during wine aging. Thus, to understand the effect of oxygen consumption by yeast lees during wine aging, an accelerated wine aging methodology was tested. Wine aging in the presence of yeast lees was studied both in the presence and in the absence of oxygen. Different markers of yeast autolysis were followed to find a relationship between oxygen consumption by yeast lees and changes in the final wine composition after aging. No differences for compounds tested were found in the wine and in the lees except among sterol compounds in lees: in the presence of oxygen, the concentration of ergosterol in lees was significantly lower than that in the absence of oxygen. It was hypothesized that ergosterol could be oxidized under the influence of oxygen, but none of the known products of ergosterol oxidation were recovered in the corresponding yeast lees. In addition, the decrease of ergosterol content in yeast lees cannot account for the total amount of oxygen consumed by yeast lees during such wine aging.

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