Wine flavor and aroma

  • Gustav Styger
  • Bernard Prior
  • Florian F. Bauer


The perception of wine flavor and aroma is the result of a multitude of interactions between a large number of chemical compounds and sensory receptors. Compounds interact and combine and show synergistic (i.e., the presence of one compound enhances the perception of another) and antagonistic (a compound suppresses the perception of another) interactions. The chemical profile of a wine is derived from the grape, the fermentation microflora (in particular the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae), secondary microbial fermentations that may occur, and the aging and storage conditions. Grape composition depends on the varietal and clonal genotype of the vine and on the interaction of the genotype and its phenotype with many environmental factors which, in wine terms, are usually grouped under the concept of “terroir” (macro, meso and microclimate, soil, topography). The microflora, and in particular the yeast responsible for fermentation, contributes to wine aroma by several mechanisms: firstly by utilizing grape juice constituents and biotransforming them into aroma- or flavor-impacting components, secondly by producing enzymes that transform neutral grape compounds into flavor-active compounds, and lastly by the de novo synthesis of many flavor-active primary (e.g., ethanol, glycerol, acetic acid, and acetaldehyde) and secondary metabolites (e.g., esters, higher alcohols, fatty acids). This review aims to present an overview of the formation of wine flavor and aroma-active components, including the varietal precursor molecules present in grapes and the chemical compounds produced during alcoholic fermentation by yeast, including compounds directly related to ethanol production or secondary metabolites. The contribution of malolactic fermentation, ageing, and maturation on the aroma and flavor of wine is also discussed.


Wine aroma and flavor Primary and secondary yeast metabolism Malolactic fermentation 



We are grateful for support by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa and by Winetech, the research funding body of the South African wine industry.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustav Styger
    • 1
  • Bernard Prior
    • 1
  • Florian F. Bauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Wine BiotechnologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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