Identification of the potential inhibitors of malolactic fermentation in wines

Abstract This exploratory work aims to identify the potential inhibitors of lactic bacterial growth and to propose enological practices to guarantee the occurrence of spontaneous malolactic fermentation (MLF) in wines from traditional and double-pruning management harvests in southeast Brazil. One white wine from a summer harvest and one red wine from a winter harvest that failed to complete MLF were utilized as comparative models to identify inhibitor compounds to lactic bacteria. Wine composition, alcoholic-fermentation temperature and bacterial strain contribute to the success or failure of MLF. Temperatures below 12 °C during alcoholic fermentation decrease lactic bacterial metabolism and may impair the bacteria’s growth after yeast cells lysis. A must pH below 3.2 in a summer harvest impairs bacterial growth, and the association of low pH with a free-SO2 concentration above 10 mg L-1 may inhibit MLF. For grapes with a high sugar content, harvested in the winter cycle, enologists should keep the alcohol content below 15% and control the alcoholic-fermentation temperature.