European Food Research and Technology

, Volume 238, Issue 4, pp 641–652 | Cite as

Brettanomyces susceptibility to antimicrobial agents used in winemaking: in vitro and practical approaches

  • Cauré Portugal
  • Yolanda Sáenz
  • Beatriz Rojo-Bezares
  • Myriam Zarazaga
  • Carmen Torres
  • Juan Cacho
  • Fernanda Ruiz-LarreaEmail author
Original Paper


Brettanomyces bruxellensis is a spoiling yeast responsible for developing off-odors in wine described as “Brett-character.” The objective of this study was to evaluate the antimicrobial activity of four enological compounds against Brettanomyces: potassium metabisulfite (PMB), chitosan, enological tannins and dimethyl dicarbonate. Minimal inhibitory concentrations and minimal biocidal concentrations of the antimicrobial agents were determined, and a comparative study between B. bruxellensis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae was performed under in vitro controlled conditions. All tested compounds showed inhibitory effect on the growth of Brettanomyces. Chitosan and the enological tannins showed selectivity against Brettanomyces, and PMB showed the highest efficacy in concentrations under the currently permitted limits for enological use; consequently, PMB was further evaluated in red wines naturally contaminated by Brettanomyces. Volatile phenol concentrations were determined after long-term storage of the wines treated with PMB. A direct correlation was demonstrated between the concentrations of 4-ethylphenol, 4-ethylguaiacol, 4-propylguaiacol and Brettanomyces populations in the studied wines, and these parameters correlated inversely with the concentrations of PMB employed. This is the first time that 4-propylguaiacol is shown to correlate with Brettanomyces population in wine. It is of enological significance that a concentration of 100 mg/L of total PMB efficiently prevented Brettanomyces growth in the aging red wines of our study and that volatile phenol concentrations were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in those poorly protected wines.


Brettanomyces Potassium metabisulfite Volatile phenols Chitosan Enological tannins Dimethyl dicarbonate 



This research was financially supported by Grant CENIT-2008/1002 of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation MICINN-CDTI. Cauré B. Portugal was a contractual researcher supported by Grant CENIT-2008/1002.

Conflict of interest


Compliance with Ethics Requirements

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cauré Portugal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yolanda Sáenz
    • 5
  • Beatriz Rojo-Bezares
    • 5
  • Myriam Zarazaga
    • 4
  • Carmen Torres
    • 4
  • Juan Cacho
    • 3
  • Fernanda Ruiz-Larrea
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias de la Vid y del Vino (CSIC-UR-GR)University of La RiojaLogroñoSpain
  2. 2.Laboratory of Technology and Quality of Alcoholic Beverages, College of Agriculture “Luiz de Queiroz”University of São PauloPiracicabaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  4. 4.Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Food and AgricultureUniversity of La RiojaLogroñoSpain
  5. 5.Molecular Microbiology LaboratoryCenter for Biomedical Research of La Rioja (CIBIR)LogroñoSpain

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