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The production of quality wines requires a judicious balance between the sugar, acid and flavour components of wine. L-Malic and tartaric acids are the most prominent organic acids in wine and play a crucial role in the winemaking process, including the organoleptic quality and the physical, biochemical and microbial stability of wine. Deacidification of grape must and wine is often required for the production of well-balanced wines. Malolactic fermentation induced by the addition of malolactic starter cultures, regarded as the preferred method for naturally reducing wine acidity, efficiently decreases the acidic taste of wine, improves the microbial stability and modifies to some extent the organoleptic character of wine. However, the recurrent phenomenon of delayed or sluggish malolactic fermentation often causes interruption of cellar operations, while the malolactic fermentation is not always compatible with certain styles of wine. Commercial wine yeast strains of Saccharomyces are generally unable to degrade L-malic acid effectively in grape must during alcoholic fermentation, with relatively minor modifications in total acidity during vinification. Functional expression of the malolactic pathway genes, i.e. the malate transporter (mae1) of Schizosaccharomyces pombe and the malolactic enzyme (mleA) from Oenococcus oeni in wine yeasts, has paved the way for the construction of malate-degrading strains of Saccharomyces for commercial winemaking.
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S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
Acidity in wine originates mainly from two sources. The first is the
organic acids extracted from grapes into the must during harvesting
and crushing; L-tartaric, L-malic and citric acids are the predomi-
nant acids (Boulton et al., 1996). The chemical composition of har-
vested grapes therefore strongly influences the composition of
must at the onset of vinification and ultimately the final quality of
the bottled wine. Secondly, the combined metabolism of yeasts and
bacteria during subsequent fermentation steps contributes to the
pool of wine acids. The net contribution of these microorganisms
to wine acidity is the sum of both the degradation of some grape
acids and the biosynthesis of some unique organic acids by yeasts
and bacteria during and after alcoholic fermentation. Succinic acid
is the major acid produced by yeast during fermentation. Lower
levels of other tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates are
also present (Ribéreau-Gayon et al., 2000). Lactic acid is mainly
produced by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) during malolactic fermen-
tation, but small amounts can also be synthesised by yeast. Several
cellar procedures such as maceration and cold stabilisation also
influence the final acid composition of wine due to precipitation
phenomena (Jackson and Schuster, 1997).
The conversion of grape sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide
is often described as the fundamental biochemical reaction
involved in winemaking, but an intricate ensemble of biological
and spontaneous chemical reactions all contribute to the final
product. Besides the importance of flavour compounds, the pres-
ence or absence of organic acids in wine plays a pivotal role in the
production of quality wines. Acidity in wine directly or indirect-
ly affects several different levels of the winemaking process and
ultimately determines wine quality in terms of the perceived
organoleptic and aesthetic character. Wine acidity also influences
the ageing potential or the shelf-life of wine, as it determines the
physical, biochemical and microbial stability of wine. In addition,
wine acidity and pH affect the timely succession of cellar events
and the effectiveness of several techniques applied by winemak-
ers (Margalit, 1997).
Winemakers often experience problems when some wine acids
exceed acceptable concentration levels. Since the artificial
manipulation of sugars and flavourants in wine is detrimental to
wine quality and prohibited in most wine producing countries,
winemakers can only modify the acidity component of wine by
adding or removing certain acids. The adjustment of acidity in
must or wine is complex and a number of factors must be taken
into account to ensure the correct method and timing for rectify-
ing wine acidity. Winemakers routinely employ bacterial malo-
lactic fermentation to deacidify wine (Henick-Kling, 1993).
Although this step is considered the most natural method for wine
acidity adjustment, which also contributes to microbial stability
and organoleptic complexity, there are a number of pitfalls asso-
ciated with this biological process.
This review discusses, with special reference to L-malic acid,
the origin and evolution of organic acids in grapes and wine, the
role of acidity in wine and the fate of these organic acids during
fermentation and downstream processing.
Malic Acid in Wine: Origin, Function and Metabolism during Vinification
H. Volschenk1a, H.J.J. van Vuuren2and M. Viljoen-Bloom1*
(1) Department of Microbiology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, 7602 Matieland, South Africa
(2) Wine Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4, Canada
(a) Current address: Department of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, PO Box 652, 8000 Cape
Town, South Africa
Submitted for publication: May 2006
Accepted for publication: September 2006
Key words: malic acid; wine; deacidification
The production of quality wines requires a judicious balance between the sugar, acid and flavour components of wine.
L-Malic and tartaric acids are the most prominent organic acids in wine and play a crucial role in the winemaking
process, including the organoleptic quality and the physical, biochemical and microbial stability of wine.
Deacidification of grape must and wine is often required for the production of well-balanced wines. Malolactic
fermentation induced by the addition of malolactic starter cultures, regarded as the preferred method for naturally
reducing wine acidity, efficiently decreases the acidic taste of wine, improves the microbial stability and modifies to
some extent the organoleptic character of wine. However, the recurrent phenomenon of delayed or sluggish
malolactic fermentation often causes interruption of cellar operations, while the malolactic fermentation is not
always compatible with certain styles of wine. Commercial wine yeast strains of Saccharomyces are generally unable
to degrade L-malic acid effectively in grape must during alcoholic fermentation, with relatively minor modifications
in total acidity during vinification. Functional expression of the malolactic pathway genes, i.e. the malate transporter
(mae1) of Schizosaccharomyces pombe and the malolactic enzyme (mleA) from Oenococcus oeni in wine yeasts, has
paved the way for the construction of malate-degrading strains of Saccharomyces for commercial winemaking.
*Corresponding author: email: [Tel: +27-21-808 5859; Fax: +27-21-808 5846]
Acknowledgements: Mr. G Coetzee for assistance in preparing the manuscript.
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
124 Malic acid in wine
The principal organic acids in grapes are L-tartaric and L-malic
acid (see Table 1), accounting for more than 90% of the grape
berry’s acid content (Boulton et al., 1996). Although L-malic and
L-tartaric acids have similar chemical structures, they are synthe-
sised from glucose via different metabolic pathways in grape
berries. L-Malic acid is formed via glycolysis and the TCA cycle,
while ascorbic acid is the principle intermediary product of L-tar-
taric acid biosynthesis. Slight differences in grape acidity among
different grape varieties are usually found, affecting especially
the ratio between L-tartaric acid and L-malic acid in different
grape cultivars (Kliewer et al., 1967). L-Tartaric acid is usually
present in grapes at average concentrations of 5 to 10 g/L
(Ruffner, 1982), while mature grapes contain between 2 and 6.5
g/L L-malic acid (Boulton et al., 1996; Ribéreau-Gayon et al.,
2000). Excessive amounts of malic acid (15 to 16 g/L) may be
present in grapes harvested during exceptionally cold summers in
the cool-climate viticultural regions of the world (Gallander,
1977). Although tartaric acid is often found at higher concentra-
tions than L-malic acid and is the stronger acid of the two, its con-
centration is relatively constant. It is the fluctuating concentration
of L-malic acid that usually poses problems to winemakers
(Margalit, 1997).
Evolution of L-malic acid during grape berry development
The development of the grape berry displays a double-sigmoidal
growth pattern (Kanellis and Roubelakis-Angelakis, 1996), char-
acterised by three successive phases: Phase I is the green or
herbaceous stage immediately after flowering (see Fig. 1). The
berries are hard and green, and undergo a short period of cell divi-
sion and cell enlargement resulting in rapid expansion of the
berry (Kanellis and Roubelakis-Angelakis, 1996; Terrier et al.,
2001). Characteristic of Stage I is the increase in vacuolar size of
the grape berry cells due to the rapid storage of L-malic and L-tar-
taric acid (Fillion et al., 1999; Pratelli et al., 2002). Stage II com-
prises a short lag phase during which berry growth ceases and
berry acidity reaches a maximum due to the continued accumula-
tion of L-malic and L-tartaric acid. Following the lag phase, there
is a second period of ‘berry growth’ (Stage III). The entry into
Stage III begins with the sudden onset of ripening or “véraison”,
which generally starts between 6 to 8 weeks after flowering and
lasts for 35 to 55 days depending on the grape cultivar (Coombe,
1992; Pratelli et al., 2002; Ribéreau-Gayon et al., 2000).
Véraison, which seems to be a stress-associated process, is
characterised by several drastic physical and biochemical
changes in the grape berry (Coombe, 1992; Davies and Robinson,
2000). The second most significant biochemical change during
véraison is the rapid reduction of grape berry acidity, which coin-
cides with the change in sugar composition of the grape berry.
Grape berries respire actively during the early stages of growth,
but the intensity of respiration slows down as they advance in age.
During véraison, the availability of the respiratory substrate,
sucrose (via photosynthesis), becomes limited due to the degra-
dation of chlorophyll. The berry is therefore forced to shift its
metabolism from sugar to L-malic acid respiration. Prior to the
onset of véraison,L-malic acid is the most abundant organic acid
(up to 25 g/L) in the grape berry vacuole, resulting in the low
internal pH of 2.5 of grapes (Ruffner, 1982; Ribéreau-Gayon et
al., 2000). With the onset of véraison, the L-malic acid concen-
tration rapidly decreases to between 4 and 6.5 g/L, or even as low
as 1 to 2 g/L, with a concomitant increase in internal berry pH
(pH of ca. 3.5).
The biochemistry related to the accumulation and rapid respi-
ration of L-malic acid in grapes has been studied in detail (see
Fig. 2). L-Malic acid accumulates in the berry vacuole before
véraison (Stages I and II, see Fig. 2) via the collective activities
of the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) and malate
dehydrogenase (MDH) enzymes (Blanke and Lenz, 1989; Diakou
et al., 2000; Or et al., 2000). The cytosolic PEPC enzyme, well
known for its photosynthetic role in C4- and CAM-plants, cataly-
ses the β-carboxylation of phosphoenolpyruvic acid to yield
oxaloacetic acid and inorganic phosphate. The resulting
oxaloacetic acid is further reduced by the NAD-dependent malate
Organic acids present in grapes and wine (Boulton et al., 1996).
Fixed acids Volatile acids
Major acids Minor acids Major acids Minor acids
L-tartaric acid (5-10 g/L) pyruvic acid acetic acid formic acid
L-malic acid* (2–6.5 g/L) α-ketoglutaric acid propionic acid
L-lactic acid (1-3 g/L) isocitric acid 2-methylpropionic acid
citric acid** (0.5-1 g/L) 2-oxoglutaric acid butyric acid
succinic acid (0.5–1.5 g/L) dimethyl glyceric acid 2-methylbutyric acid
amino acids citramalic acid 3-methylbutyric acid
gluconic acid*** hexanoic acid
galacturonic acid octanoic acid
glucuronic acid decanoic acid
mucic acid
coumaric acid
ascorbic acid
*15 –16 g/L L-malic acid has been reported in cool climate regions
**> 0.3 g/L when wines are stabilised for metal precipitation
***present in wine with Botrytis cinerae infection
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
Malic acid in wine
The double-sigmoid model of grape berry development indicates the three stages of herbaceous growth, temporary growth arrest and véraison (adapted from Jackson and
Schuster, 1997). The thick arrows denote the simultaneous pattern of L-malic acid synthesis and accumulation as well as rapid decrease via respiration during grape berry
The biochemical pathways involved in the biosynthesis, dissipation and regulation of L-malic acid in grape berries (adapted from Kanellis and Roubelakis-Angelakis, 1996).).
ME = malic enzyme; PEPC = phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase; PEPCK = phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase; MDH = malate dehydrogenase. The decrease in L-malic acid
is due to (1) a decrease in carbon flux via glycolysis, (2) a decrease in L-malic acid biosynthesis via PEPC, and (3) an increase in L-malic acid respiration via the malic enzyme.
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
126 Malic acid in wine
dehydrogenase to produce L-malic acid. Oxaloacetic acid and
L-malic acid can enter the TCA cycle to produce citrate as well as
other metabolites (Diakou et al., 2000). The β-carboxylation of
phosphoenolpyruvic acid plays an important role as an anapleu-
rotic CO2fixation step that supplies carbon skeletons for other
cellular processes such as osmolarity regulation, pH regulation
and nitrogen assimilation (Diakou et al., 2000). Although a high
malic enzyme (ME) activity during the accumulation phase of
malic acid has been noted, the actual contribution to L-malic acid
concentration via the reverse malic enzyme reaction, i.e. pyruvic
acid carboxylation, was found to be insignificant (Ruffner et al.,
1984; Kanellis and Roubelakis-Angelakis, 1996).
The rapid decrease in L-malic acid concentration inside the
grape berry during véraison is the result of a significant decrease
in L-malic acid biosynthesis synchronised with a sharp increase in
L-malic acid degradation via respiration. Initially the concentra-
tion of L-malic acid in the berry vacuole is diluted due to the
influx of water during berry expansion in the second growth
phase (Stage III, see Fig. 1). Secondly, the slowing down of gly-
colytic carbon flow during véraison results in the increase of glu-
cose and fructose in the berry vacuole, and also a decrease in
L-malic acid synthesis via pyruvic acid in the tricarboxylic acid
(TCA) cycle. The biosynthesis of L-malic acid via the PEPC
enzyme is also reduced due to a lack of PEPC gene transcription,
which correlates with the start of véraison (Or et al., 2000).
The rate of respiration of stored L-malic acid significantly
increases during véraison due to a higher demand for respiratory
substrates in the grape berry. L-Malic acid is degraded in grape
berries via two pathways, mainly by the cytosolic NADP-malic
enzyme (ME) (Ruffner et al., 1984) and, to a lesser extent, by the
PEP carboxykinase (PEPCK) (see Fig. 2) (Ruffner and Kliewer,
1975). There is also evidence that the malate dehydrogenase
(MDH), especially the mitochondrial iso-enzyme, plays a puta-
tive role in the degradation of L-malic acid in the grape berry.
Gene expression profiles and enzyme activities of the ME and
MDH enzymes increase at the onset of véraison, descriptive of
the rapid depletion scenario of L-malic acid (Or et al., 2000).
L-Malic acid degraded via the NADP-malic enzyme fuels the
required biosynthetic (in particular the provision of NADPH) and
respiratory pathways (Ruffner et al., 1984), whereas a small per-
centage of L-malic acid (<5%) is converted back to phospho-
enolpyruvate via MDH and PEPCK for glucose synthesis via glu-
coneogenesis (see Fig. 2) (Ruffner and Kliewer, 1975; Ruffner,
1982; Kanellis and Roubelakis-Angelakis, 1996 ).
Environmental factors: Warm climate vs. cool climate
Acidity in wine is a function of various exogenous factors, such
as the climate or average temperature, the grape cultivar and vine-
yard practices (Beelman and Gallander, 1979; Ribéreau-Gayon et
al., 2000; Zoecklein et al., 1995). The most important factors that
influences the final sugar:organic acid and the malic:tartaric acid
ratios in grapes is the prevailing climatic conditions and ambient
temperature during Stage III of berry ripening (Crippen and
Morrison, 1986; Kanellis and Roubelakis-Angelakis, 1996;
Ruffner, 1982; Zoecklein et al., 1995;).
Cool-climate regions, which include parts of northern Europe,
Canada and northeast USA, are characterised by shorter ripening
periods and/or sub-optimal mean temperatures (9 °C to15° C) dur-
ing the late ripening season (Jackson, 2001). The rate of respira-
tion of L-malic acid is significantly slower in cold climates, result-
ing in “immature grapes” at harvesting, containing a high titrat-
able acidity (TA) content and low pH. High acidity in cool-climate
grapes can be exasperated by unusually cold seasons, poor vine-
yard locations, sub-optimal cultivar selections or poor viticultural
practices such as overcropping. In these countries, L-malic acid
can comprise up to 50% of the total acidity in grapes.
In contrast, the warm climates, including parts of southern
Europe, California, South Africa and Australia, have longer ripen-
ing seasons and/or higher mean temperatures (16°C and above)
(Pretorius, 2000). Since the prevailing temperature of the region
directly influences the rate of L-malic acid respiration in grapes,
grapes in the warmer climates tend to have a faster rate of L-malic
acid respiration compared to those of the cooler climates. Thus,
grapes from the warmer climates often contain insufficient final
TA values and do not meet desirable pH values at harvest time.
Organic acids can contribute positively to the organoleptic char-
acter of wine when in balance with the other wine components.
The sour-sweet balance is well known as a required sensory qual-
ity in wine, especially in white wine (Burns and Noble, 1985;
Fischer and Noble, 1994; Martin and Revel, 1999; Vannier et al.,
1999). Acid-balanced wines are usually perceived as having
refreshing or crisp sensory undertones, while descriptions such as
“sharp”, “green”, “acidulous” or “unripe” often refer to wine with
too much acidity. When present in excessive concentrations,
organic acids leave a uniquely tart or sour taste, indicative of the
specific acid in wine. For example, excess quantities of L-malic
acid are perceived as a sour taste, resembling that of unripe
apples. Furthermore, wine acidity often disguises or accentuates
the perception of other wine tastes; it usually masks excess sweet-
ness, while the perception of astringency is emphasised when
coinciding with low pH values (Noble, 1998).
The specific organic acid composition of wine determines the
specific pH of the wine, which in turn indirectly influences the
perception of taste in wine. Since the pH of any given solution is
based on the balance between the protonated and deprotonated
isoforms of organic molecules, the pH of wine determines the
degree of organic acid and amino acid ionisation in a wine solu-
tion. The level of ionisation of these organic building blocks
influences the ionic state, solubility and biological activity of
many complex molecules such as proteins, fatty acids, phenolic
compounds, etc. It is thus conceivable that a minor change in
wine pH (as small as 0.05 units), when coinciding with changes
in total acidity (TA) of 0.2 to 0.5 g/L, significantly influences the
organoleptic perception of wine (Margalit, 1997).
Organic acids and pH also play important roles in the develop-
ment of specific flavour compounds during vinification. A high
TA and low pH in grape must has been linked to the release of flo-
ral aroma and other flavour precursors from grape skins during
the crushing stages of vinification. The release of stored organic
acids, specifically L-malic acid and tartaric acid, from the grape
berry during crushing is responsible for acid hydrolysis of non-
volatile flavour compounds like monoterpene glycosides, some
phenolic compounds, C13-norisoprenoids, benzyl alcohol and 2-
phenylethanol from the berry. These flavour compounds are
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
Malic acid in wine
essential for the development of a healthy, complex flavour pro-
file during vinification and subsequent ageing of wine (Strauss et
al., 1987; Winterhalter et al., 1990). Acidity in wine, and more
specifically wine pH, plays an important role in the preservation
of wine aroma and flavour, as the pH of wine influences the rate
of oxidation in wine. A low pH in must or wine safeguards wine
and prevents or delays phenolic oxidation by maintaining the
phenolic compounds in their non-ionised state, rendering them
less susceptible to oxidation.
The acidity and pH of wine also influences the visible attribut-
es of wine, such as wine colour and clarity. The colour of white
wine is usually affected by pH-dependent phenolic oxidation
reactions that lead to browning of the wine colour. In red wines,
low pH and free sulphur dioxide are essential for the development
and stability of the red colour, which can be ascribed to antho-
cyanins (Margalit, 1997). Furthermore, the pH of red wine also
influences the degree of co-pigmentation of anthocyanins, which
in turn determines the red colour density. Furthermore, wine clar-
ity can be affected by the undesirable precipitation of acids, par-
ticularly tartaric acid, which can be considered an aesthetic
imperfection, especially in young bottled wines. Excess tartaric
acid is routinely removed before bottling by cold stabilisation and
racking or filtering of potassium bitartrate crystals.
Wine acidity, but more importantly wine pH, has a profound
effect on the microbial stability of wine as it determines the survival
and proliferation of bacteria and yeast species during and after vini-
fication. Grape must or juice with a low pH (<3.5) is usually more
protected against microbial spoilage at the onset of alcoholic fer-
mentation, as the low pH is not conducive to the growth of most
spoilage bacteria and yeast species, but still permits the proliferation
of the wine yeast S. cerevisiae (Capucho and San Romao, 1994).
Extreme pH values in wine usually have an adverse effect on
the growth of yeast and bacteria during vinification, i.e. at pH val-
ues below 2.9 the growth of spoilage bacteria and yeasts, as well
as most strains of S. cerevisiae will be inhibited. This may delay
the onset of alcoholic fermentation and affect the success of inoc-
ulating with LAB starter cultures after alcoholic fermentation
(Charoenchai et al., 1998). When the pH of must or juice exceeds
pH 3.5, the risk of overgrowth of spoilage lactobacilli, pediococ-
ci and strains of Oenococcus oeni during alcoholic fermentation
is increased. At elevated pH ranges, strains of these LAB can
rapidly proliferate to substantial populations before the actual
onset of alcoholic fermentation. Premature growth of LAB poses
a serious risk to wine quality, since glucose is fermented to lactic
acid and acetic acid, resulting in elevated volatile acidity levels in
wine, reduced ethanol yields as well as stuck or sluggish alco-
holic fermentation (Fugelsang, 1997; Narendranath et al., 1997).
Lastly, TA and pH also influence several winemaking opera-
tions. For example, the requirement for chemical additives is
reduced in low pH wines. Wines with low pH values require
lower concentrations of SO2due to the added protection against
oxidation and microbial spoilage supplied by the low pH. The
effective precipitation of pectins and heat-sensitive proteins
during bentonite treatment is also enhanced by a lower pH. Since
less bentonite is required at lower pH values for the effective
removal of solids and proteins during racking, the loss of flavour
compounds is minimised (Boulton et al., 1996; Margalit, 1997;
Ribéreau-Gayon et al., 2000).
Acidity adjustment in grape must is an essential step during vini-
fication when the TA and/or pH of the must or wine exceed
acceptable ranges. As a rule, the TA of wine increases by 1 to 2
g/L during alcoholic fermentation via the production of L-malic,
succinic, acetic and lactic acids by strains of yeast and bacteria.
However, significant variations might occur due to the contribu-
tion of specific yeast strains used for alcoholic fermentation and
the success of the malolactic fermentation.
Several factors need to be considered to determine the timing
(before or after alcoholic fermentation) and method of rectifying
wine acidity, which are generally based on the initial pH of the must
or juice. Traditionally, acidification of low-acid (high pH) grape
must in warm viticultural regions is preferably done before the start
of alcoholic fermentation. Reducing the pH is conducive to the
development of optimal wine flavour during fermentation and pre-
vents the proliferation of spoilage lactobacilli and pediococci during
alcoholic fermentation. Similarly, a reduction of TA prior to fer-
mentation is a prerequisite in grape must with a pH below 2.9, since
the onset of alcoholic fermentation by strains of Saccharomyces will
be negatively affected at such low pH extremes.
Viticulturists have several vineyard practices available to pre-
serve or decrease the acidity of grapes. Winemakers in the warm-
climate countries, for example, can alleviate the problem of low
acidity wines by selecting specific cultivars with a natural higher
tartaric:malic acid ratio, such as Semillon and Riesling (Lavee and
Nir, 1986). In contrast, Cabernet Sauvignon is classified as an
intermediate-acidity variety (Kliewer et al., 1967) that will relieve
high acidity problems to a limited degree in the cool-climate
regions. Canopy management, irrigation control and soil fertilisa-
tion have a significant influence on the acid composition of
grapes. For example, nitrogen and potassium fertilisation stimu-
lates the accumulation of L-malic acid due to increased foliage and
shading in bunches. Berries maturing in densely shaded canopy
interiors are generally associated with higher TA levels due to an
increase in L-malic acid (Archer and Strauss, 1989; Morrison and
Noble, 1990; Smart, 1985; Zoecklein et al., 1995). Similarly, viti-
culturists in the cool-climate regions can use trellising and leaf-
pruning techniques, which allows grape bunches to be more
exposed to sunlight and increase the microclimate temperature to
ensure increased respiration of L-malic acid during véraison.
Several cellar operations influence the TA and pH of wine. Skin
contact or maceration generally leads to a slight decrease in TA
and an increase in pH in the must before the start of fermentation
(Darias-Martin et al., 2000; Ferreira et al., 1995). Skin contact is
often applied in red wines (and some white wines) to extract
anthocyanins and other phenolic flavour compounds from the
pomace to ensure the optimal colour and flavour development in
red wines. However, increased extraction of potassium from the
skins coincides with phenolic extraction during skin contact,
which normally causes an increase in potassium bitartrate precip-
itation. Grape acidity can also be reduced by carbonic macera-
tion, a maceration process in which the grapes are kept under
anaerobic conditions by exposing them to CO2gas before crush-
ing or pressing. In this anaerobic environment, certain intracellu-
lar fermentation reactions are stimulated in the intact berries, one
of which is the oxidative decarboxylation of L-malic acid to pyru-
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
128 Malic acid in wine
vic acid, catalysed by a berry NADP-dependent malic enzyme
(EC (Beelman and Gallander, 1979).
Acidification of low-acid wines
Several artificial methods for acidification of grape must are
available to winemakers, the most traditional method of which is
the use of raw gypsum or plaster (hydrous calcium sulphate),
which reacts with potassium bitartrate and releases free tartaric
acid. This method is seldom applied in modern winemaking due
to the risk of increased hydrogen sulphide production by yeast
during fermentation (Zoecklein et al., 1995). Acidification of
wine can also be achieved by adding naturally occurring grape
acids to wine, such as tartaric, D/L-malic, citric or fumaric acid.
Although succinic acid is relatively resistant to microbial attack
under fermentative conditions, it cannot be utilised as an acidu-
lating agent due to its bitter-salty taste (Ribéreau-Gayon et al.,
Tartaric acid is the preferred acidulating agent in low-acid
wines; it is relatively more resistant to microbial breakdown and
can thus be added before the onset of alcoholic fermentation
without the risk of off-flavours. Acidification of grape must with
L-malic acid and citric acid can be applied with some degree of
success, but degradation of these acids by spoilage LAB poses a
risk under winemaking conditions. L-Malic acid does not precip-
itate like tartaric acid, but can initiate a second round of malolac-
tic fermentation if still present in the wine just before bottling. As
a precaution, malic acid is added as a racemic mixture of
D/L-malic acid to the must at the beginning of fermentation,
which leads to increased TA and lower pH of the wine. The risk
of bottled malolactic fermentation is significantly reduced, since
most or all of the L-malic acid is removed by the first round of
malolactic fermentation, leaving only the D-malic acid isoform
that is resistant to microbial attack, and maintains a low pH.
Deacidification of high-acid wines
In cool viticultural regions, the removal of tartaric acid or excess
L-malic acid from the wine before or after alcoholic fermentation
is usually required to ensure wines with a balanced acid content
and sufficient stability. Deacidification of high-acid wines can be
achieved through physicochemical methods such as blending,
chemical neutralisation and precipitation, or by biological means
through the microbial degradation of L-malic acid, as will be dis-
cussed in a following section.
Blending of grape musts with different TA and pH indexes is
one of the most elementary and effective solutions available to
winemakers. However, blending of a low-pH must with a high-
pH must to neutralise the pH before fermentation is not always
practically achievable due to the lack of available musts with sig-
nificantly opposite characteristics in the same wine-producing
region. Another physical method employed to decrease the TA of
high-acid musts is the process of amelioration (Kluba and
Beelman, 1975), which involves the dilution of grape must with
water to reduce the must TA before fermentation. Amelioration,
however, has become an unacceptable winemaking practice due
to its detrimental effect on wine flavour, aroma, body and colour
(especially in red wines) (Margalit, 1997).
Acids become less soluble and their salts precipitate in wine
under chilled conditions and increased ethanol concentrations.
The TA of wine or grape must can therefore be reduced by pre-
cipitating tartaric acid and, to a lesser extent, L-malic acid salts.
Tartaric acid usually precipitates in wine at the end of fermenta-
tion as potassium bitartrate crystals. To prevent the formation of
tartaric acid crystals during wine ageing, cold stabilisation is
applied to promote tartaric acid crystallisation and precipitation.
Removal of the tartaric acid crystals during subsequent racking,
filtration or centrifugation leads to a lower tartaric acid concen-
tration, and thus a decrease in TA and an increase in pH.
Potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3)
can be added to wine to assist in tartaric acid precipitation, but
L-malic acid is unaffected, often leading to undesirable tartar-
ic:malic acid ratios in wine (Ribéreau-Gayon et al., 2000).
An effective method to reduce the TA of high-acid grape musts
before fermentation is double salt-precipitation treatment (also
known as Acidex or DICALCIC treatment) (Ribéreau-Gayon et
al., 2000). This method is used in cool climate regions and is
based on the addition of a fine powder of calcium carbonate that
contains a 1% calcium tartaric and malic acid salt mixture as a
seeding agent. At pH values above 4.5 this additive causes the
precipitation of supposedly equimolar quantities of both tartaric
and L-malic acid. Usually, a pre-determined fraction of the wine
is treated with Acidex and then blended back with the untreated
wine to yield a wine with a lower TA and higher pH.
Since the physicochemical deacidification of wine is often time-
consuming, requires increased labour and capital input, and is
regularly associated with reduced wine quality (Pretorius, 2000),
biological deacidification of wine with LAB is the traditional
method of choice for the removal of excess wine acidity. During
alcoholic fermentation, wine yeast strains convert the grape sug-
ars, glucose and fructose into ethanol and various flavour com-
pounds. Once all of the sugars are depleted, the yeast population
rapidly declines, followed by the proliferation of LAB that utilise
the remaining hexose and pentose sugars and performs malolac-
tic fermentation (MLF). Modern winemaking has harnessed the
benefits of the naturally occurring LAB in wine by developing
pure starter cultures of selected LAB for improved efficiency and
reliability of malolactic fermentation.
Various strains of LAB are regularly associated with different
food and beverage-related biotopes such as wine, beer, ciders,
vegetables, silage, bread (sourdough), cocoa and coffee fermen-
tations (Hashizume and Mori, 1990; Henick-Kling, 1993) (Table
2). As the name suggests, strains of LAB have the ability to pro-
duce significant quantities of lactic acid from sugars. This is
achieved either via a homofermentative metabolic pathway when
only lactic acid is produced from glucose, or via a heterofermen-
tative pathway when glucose is fermented to lactic acid, ethanol
and acetic acid. Several strains of LAB, classified in Oenococcus,
Leuconostoc,Weissella,Pediococcus and Lactobacillus genera,
have the additional ability to convert L-malic acid into L-lactic
acid and CO2by means of the malolactic enzyme (see Fig. 3). The
malolactic enzyme catalyses the conversion of L-malic acid to
L-lactic acid in the presence of the cofactors NAD+and Mg2+
(Bony et al., 1997).
Wine LAB have a complex ecology, but are usually present in
low numbers (102–104colony-forming units (CFU)/g) on grapes
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
Malic acid in wine
and in grape must at the early stages of vinification (Fugelsang,
1997; Lafon-Lafourcade et al., 1983; Lonvaud-Funel, 1999;
Wibowo et al., 1985). The prevalence of LAB in grape musts is
mainly correlated to the must pH; an increase in pH (pH > 3.5)
leads to a higher total number of LAB. However, elevated popu-
lations of LAB can also be found in musts from damaged grapes
(Lonvaud-Funel, 1999). There are mainly four different genera of
LAB present in the must at the beginning of vinification (see
Table 2), i.e. Oenococcus,Lactobacilllus, Pediococcus and
Leuconostoc (Dicks et al., 1990; Dicks and Van Vuuren, 1988;
Fugelsang, 1997; Lonvaud-Funel, 1999; Wibowo et al., 1985).
During the early days of yeast alcoholic fermentation, the LAB
population increases to ca. 104CFU/mL, but quickly declines to
only a few cells/mL with the onset of ethanol production (Van
Vuuren and Dicks, 1993; Fugelsang, 1997). The decline in LAB
population is ascribed to a combination of low initial pH values,
low temperatures, increased ethanol concentration, competitive
interactions with yeasts, possible bacteriophage infections, as
well as high concentrations of SO2. At the end of alcoholic fer-
mentation, mainly strains of O. oeni proliferate to a population of
107CFU/mL, which coincides with malolactic fermentation
(Costello et al., 1983; Fleet et al., 1984; Lonvaud-Funel, 1999;
Wibowo et al., 1985). Strains of O. oeni have the unique ability
to survive in a wine milieu at pH values lower than 4.2 and
ethanol levels as high as 10% (v/v) (Garvie and Farrow, 1980).
Strains of Pediococcus and Lactobacillus only proliferate in
wines with initial high pH levels prior to or during alcoholic fer-
mentation, and usually cause spoilage or sluggish alcoholic fer-
mentations in wines (Costello et al., 1983; Fugelsang, 1997).
Advantages and disadvantages of bacterial malolactic fer-
Malolactic fermentation is the preferred deacidification method
used in most of the wine regions of the world. Red wine produc-
tion in both cold- and warm-climate regions usually involves
bacterial malolactic fermentation, naturally or induced, after
yeast alcoholic fermentation. Natural malolactic fermentation
occurs less frequently in white wines due to an average lower pH
of most white cultivars and higher concentrations of SO2
employed (Rodriquez et al., 1990), but it can be induced with
LAB starter cultures in some styles of wine, e.g. Chardonnay. The
malolactic fermentation is crucial in the Champagne wine region
of France, where the traditional méthode champenoise process is
used to produce sparkling wine. The grapes used during the pro-
duction of base wines are usually high in acid content and require
the malolactic fermentation as a primary fermentation to deacid-
ify and mature the base wine prior to the yeast fermentation in the
bottle (Pool and Henick-Kling, 1991).
The malolactic fermentation affects four different, but interre-
lated, aspects of wine quality: wine acidity, microbial stability,
sensory complexity and the hygienic quality of wine. Under cer-
tain conditions, the contributions made by malolactic fermentation
improve wine quality, but the same contributions may be consid-
ered highly undesirable under a different set of circumstances (see
Table 3) as found in the cool- versus warm-climate wine regions.
Loss of acidity and increase in pH
Depending on the initial pH of the must, the removal of L-malic
acid via MLF can be either advantageous or detrimental to wine
quality. In high-acid/low-pH wines typically found in the cool-cli-
mate regions, a decrease in excess L-malic acid is highly favourable
for the production of acid-balanced wines (Boulton et al., 1996;
Henick-Kling, 1995; Lonvaud-Funel, 1999). MLF usually leads to
a reduction in final TA of 1 to 3 g/L and an average increase in pH
of 0.1 to 0.3 units in wine (Margalit, 1997). Subsequently, the rise
in pH after MLF often promotes the precipitation of potassium
bitartrate, leading to an additional reduction in TA (Beelman and
Gallander, 1979; Ribéreau-Gayon et al., 2000).
Lactic acid bacteria isolated from wine (Carr et al., 2002; Du Plessis et al., 2004).
Genus Wine-related species
Oenococcus O. oeni (formerly Leuconostoc oenos)
Leuconostoc L. mesenteroides
Lactobacillus Lb. plantarum, Lb. sakei, Lb. fructivorans (formerly trichodes), Lb. buchneri, Lb. fermentum, Lb. casei , Lb. homohiochii,
Lb. fructosus, Lb. desidiousis (reclassified as Lb. kefir), Lb. brevis, Lb. hilgardii, Lb. curvatus,Lb. delbrueckii,Lb. jensenii,
Lb. kunkeei, Lb. nagelii, Lb. paracasei, Lb. vermiforme, Lb. vini, Lb. yamanasheinsis, Lb. homohiochii,
Pediococcus P. damnosus (formerly P. cerevisiae), P. parvulus, P. pentosaceus
The NAD-dependent malolactic enzyme (MLE) transforms the C4dicarboxylic acid L-malic acid to the C3monocarboxylic acid L-lactic acid without any free intermediates.
The conversion is a direct decarboxylation of L(-)-malic acid to L(+)-lactic acid and carbon dioxide (Pilone and Kunkee, 1970).
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
130 Malic acid in wine
The incidence of MLF in wine with an initial high pH (or low
acidity), usually found in the warmer climatic regions, has the
opposite impact on wine quality. MLF in these wines leads to an
additional reduction in wine acidity and a subsequent increase in
pH due to the degradation of L-malic acid, and results in undesir-
able “bland” wines that lack adequate acidity. Under these cir-
cumstances, the aesthetics of red wine is often negatively affect-
ed in terms of red colour intensity, with a potential loss of ca. 30%
in red colour due to the shift in pH (Kunkee, 1967; Vetsch and
Lüthi, 1964). Furthermore, the risk of spoilage by strains of lac-
tobacilli and pediococci is enhanced in these elevated-pH wines.
Microbial stability
Winemakers have long believed that MLF leads to an increase in
microbial stability due to the depletion of essential nutrients in
wine and the fastidious growth requirements of LAB, especially
O. oeni. This might be partly true for high-acid/low-pH wines,
where the antimicrobial effect of low pH dominates in inhibiting
the growth of spoilage bacteria after the first round of MLF. The
apparent depletion of residual nutrients, which includes L-malic
acid, citric acid, amino acids, nitrogen bases, vitamins and fer-
mentable sugars left after alcoholic fermentation, prevents the
growth of other spoilage bacteria. Furthermore, LAB produce
antimicrobial compounds such as lactic acid and bacteriocins
(Rammelsberg and Radler, 1990) that inhibit the growth of other
related bacterial species (Henick-Kling, 1993). However, spoilage
by strains of LAB is often encountered, especially if low concen-
trations of L-malic acid remain in the wine or the wines have high
initial pH levels (Costello et al., 1983; Davis et al., 1986).
The benefit of increased microbial stability due to MLF is
therefore also more applicable to the cool-climate viticultural
Influence of LAB’s metabolism on wine sensory profile.
Bacterial strain Advantage Risk
Selected O. œni • Reduction of total acidity
• Reduction of ketone and aldehyde compounds (reducing SO2requirement)
• Partial microbial stability
• Reduction of grassy and vegetative notes
• Increase in front-pallet volume
• More diacetyl level control
• Dominance over wild bacteria
• Production of volatile acidity (especially under high pH con-
ditions, in presence of residual sugars and after L-malic acid
• Loss of color
• Production of ethyl carbamate
Spontaneous O. œni • Reduction of total acidity
• Reduction of ketone and aldehyde compounds (reducing SO2requirement)
• Partial microbial stability
• Reduction of grassy and vegetative notes
• Increase in front-pallet volume
Long lag phase involving an increase in the volatile acidity
depending on the pH
Significant bacterial growth involving a high production of
Production of spoilage aromas and flavours (mousy off-
flavour, sweat, sauerkraut)
• Reduction of esters (fruity characters)
• Loss of varietal aromas
• Color loss by direct action on polyphenols
• Production of biogenic amines
• Production of ethyl carbamate
L. mesenteroides • Reduction of total acidity • Production of viscous compounds (ropy wines)
• Production of spoilage aromas and flavours
Lb. plantarum, Lb. casei • Reduction of total acidity in must or wine
• No production of acetic acid from sugar (hexose)
• Sensitive to alcohol over 5% vol.
• Sluggish or stuck fermentation in high pH wine at high cont-
amination levels
• Production of spoilage aromas and flavours (Lb. casei)
P. pentosacceus
P. damnosus
• Reduction of total acidity in must or wine
• No production of acetic acid from sugar (hexose)
• Production of viscous compounds (ropy wines)
• Production of biogenic amines
• Risk of sluggish or stuck fermentation at pH >3.5, with high
contamination levels
• Risks increase with the pH value
Lb. brevis
Lb. hilgardii
• Reduction of total acidity in must or wine • Production of viscous compounds (ropy wines)
• Production of biogenic amines
• High production of ethyl carbamate
• Production of spoilage aromas and flavours
• Production of acetic acid
Lb. kunkeei • Strong competition with yeasts during the alcoholic fermen-
tation for nutrients
• Overproduction of acetic acid
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
Malic acid in wine
regions where the low pH of wine remains an inhibitory factor
after completion of MLF. Under these circumstances, complete
removal of L-malic acid and citric acid during MLF, which serves
as a relatively good nutritional resource for O. oeni, does min-
imise the risk of bacterial growth after bottling. In the warmer
viticultural regions, the use of MLF is tolerated in most red and
some white cultivars for the sole purpose of completely removing
L-malic acid from the wine and contributing to the organoleptic
profile of the wine. However, winemakers have to adjust the pH
of the wine prior to MLF, usually with tartaric acid, to prevent
spoilage by LAB and other bacteria.
Wine sensory modifications.
The role of MLF in improving the sensory complexity of wine is
one of the more dubious benefits of MLF when compared to its
role in deacidification and microbial stability of wine. Results
from various chemical and sensorial studies have shown that
numerous flavour-active substances are produced by LAB that
are involved in the aroma changes of wine during malolactic fer-
mentation. However, to date, only a few of these compounds and
their biosyntheses have been identified (Moreno-Arrabis and
Polo, 2005). The most convincing change in wine taste after MLF
is the replacement of the strong “green” taste of L-malic acid with
the less aggressive taste of lactic acid (Beelman and Gallander,
1979; Lonvaud-Funel, 1999). Removal of the sharp taste of
excess L-malic acid is usually described in terms of the mouth
feel and extended aftertaste of wine compared to non-MLF con-
trol wines (Davis et al., 1985; Henick-Kling, 1993; Henick-Kling
et al., 1994; Malík, 1998). In general, wines that underwent MLF,
particularly red wines, are often characterised by lower vegeta-
tive/herbaceous aromas, while the fruity and floral characters are
also reduced due to the degradation of several esters and other
flavour compounds (McDaniel et al., 1987; Laurent et al., 1994).
Many other flavours such as ‘buttery’, ‘lactic’, ‘nutty’, ‘oaky’,
‘yeasty’ and ‘sweaty’ have been described in wines after MLF
(Laurent et al., 1994).
The improvement of the front-palate volume and roundness in
the mouth is not only due to the reduction in acidity of the wine.
Certain LAB can produce metabolites that improve mouth feel
either directly or by binding with bitter and astringent wine com-
pounds. Specific metabolites synthesised during the metabolism
of LAB, especially strains of O. oeni, have been identified as
flavour compounds in wine and it is argued that these compounds
play a role in improving the sensory complexity of wine
(McDaniel et al., 1987; Rodriquez et al., 1990). These metabolites
are synthesised in varying concentrations during MLF and include
compounds such as acetaldehyde, 2,3-butanediol, acetic acid, ace-
toin, 2-butanol, and various other volatile esters (such as ethyl lac-
tate, isoamyl acetate, ethyl caproate, diethyl succinate and ethyl
acetate) (Meunier and Bott, 1979; Zeeman et al., 1982). Diacetyl,
a volatile diketone and end product of citric acid metabolism by
LAB, is also produced during MLF, and is often perceived as a
desirable buttery or nutty flavour when present in low concentra-
tions (Bartowsky & Henschke, 2004; Davis et al., 1985).
The exact sensory contribution of MLF in wine is extremely
difficult to evaluate due to the intricate nature of the factors that
play a role. The number of flavour compounds synthesised during
MLF is greatly influenced by the initial wine pH and the fermen-
tation temperature, which determines the rate of malolactic fer-
mentation. When the rate of malolactic fermentation is high (high
pH and temperature), the production of acetic acid is enhanced,
while the production of diacetyl is favoured under low pH and
temperature conditions. The flavour contribution by MLF in wine
is further complicated by the large diversity of strains and species
of LAB that are usually involved in MLF (see Table 2). For exam-
ple, individual strains of O. oeni contribute different flavour
changes to the wine during MLF (Henick-Kling et al., 1994;
Zeeman et al., 1982).
The sensory changes incurred during malolactic fermentation are
not always desirable in all wine styles and cultivars. Some delicate
European white wines, such as Muscat, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
and Gewürztraminer, are protected against natural MLF, since the
LAB degrade many terpenes and other flavour molecules that
diminish the varietal fruity-floral aromas revealed during alcoholic
fermentation (Lonvaud-Funel, 1999 Radler, 1972). Furthermore,
many of the metabolic products of LAB are usually perceived as
off-flavours when produced at elevated levels. For example, the
synthesis of diacetyl often masks the characteristics of white wines
with heavy notes of butter or cheese that can be considered as off-
flavours (Martineau et al., 1995). Some strains of LAB, especially
the lactobacilli, have the ability to degrade L-tartaric acid, which
could lead to severe deficiencies in wine TA, a spoilage defined as
tourne (Ribéreau-Gayon et al., 2000). Another type of off-flavour
associated with lactobacilli, amertume, is caused by dehydration of
glycerol to 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde, which is further reduced to
1,3-propanediol (Schutz and Radler, 1984). Bitterness is caused by
a combination of acrolein derived from 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde
to phenolic compounds (Rentscher and Tanner, 1951). Some
Lactobacillus spp. sometimes contributes to a mousy taint due to
nitrogen heterocycle compounds produced by the acylation of
lysine and ornithine, as shown in Lactobacillus hilgardii by
Costello et al. (2001).
Health factors.
The wholesomeness of wine is becoming an ever-increasingly
important marketing tool in the wine trade. Winemakers are
therefore steering clear of procedures that could tarnish the
hygienic or health image of their wines, i.e. the excessive use of
detrimental chemicals such as SO2. The synthesis of two undesir-
able compounds in wine during conventional malolactic fermen-
tation, namely biogenic amines and ethyl carbamate, have led to
a renewed interest in finding alternatives for bacterial wine
deacidification (see Table 3).
Biogenic amine production during MLF
LAB are well known to produce biogenic amines during the
process of fermentation of foods and beverages (Guerrini et al.,
2002). Biogenic amines (e.g. histamine) are generated via the
decarboxylation of naturally occurring amino acids (e.g. histi-
dine) through substrate-specific enzymes (Ten Brink et al., 1990).
The physiological role of this reaction in LAB is thought to
ensure growth and survival in acidic conditions, since it increas-
es the pH. Although the biogenic amine content of fermented
foods is usually higher than that found in wine, the presence of
alcohol, SO2and other biogenic amines has been shown to ampli-
fy the toxic effect of certain biogenic amines (Fernandes and
Ferreira, 2000;Ibe et al., 1991; Silla Santos, 1996). For example,
the presence of putrescine, the most prevalent amine in wine
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
132 Malic acid in wine
(Soufleros et al., 1998), is known to act as a potentiator of hista-
mine toxicity in humans (Taylor, 1986).
The concentration of biogenic amines, especially histamine,
tyramine and putrescine, in wine is higher after the completion of
malolactic fermentation (Lonvaud-Funel and Joyeux, 1994;
Radler and Fäth, 1991; Soufleros et al., 1998). The biogenic
amine content of wine is dependent on the amino acid composi-
tion of the wine after alcoholic fermentation and the specific
microflora present in wine, but more importantly on the ability of
to decarboxylate amino acids. At elevated pH levels, biogenic
amines are usually found at higher concentrations in wine due to
easier growth and greater bacterial diversity (Lonvaud-Funel and
Joyeux, 1994). Commercial cultures of malolactic bacteria are
therefore selected not to produce high levels of biogenic amines.
Ethyl carbamate (EC) production during MLF
Arginine, usually one of the most abundant amino acids in grape
juice, is metabolised by yeasts to urea, which is released into
wine when it accumulates in the yeast cell during or at the end of
fermentation. Urea spontaneously reacts with the ethanol in wine
to form EC, a naturally occurring compound present in all fer-
mented foods and beverages. There is a general agreement that
the presence of EC in wine is not desirable and must be main-
tained at as low a level as possible since it has been proven to be
a carcinogen when administered at high dosages in animal tests
(Azevedo et al., 2002; Liu and Pilone, 1998). Although, the main
source of EC in wine is from the ethanolysis of urea synthesised
during yeast metabolism, some strains of LAB can also produce
precursors of EC. Most of the commercial O. oeni strains are able
to break down arginine through the arginine deiminase pathway
(ADI pathway), during which citrulline and carbamyl phosphate
are excreted, and react with ethanol to produce ethyl carbamate
(Liu et al., 1994).
Control of malolactic fermentation
Although malolactic fermentation is the most widely accepted
deacidification method of wine, the bioconversion of L-malic acid
to lactic acid is a difficult and time-consuming process that does
not always proceed favourably under the typical conditions of
wine. It can lead to spoilage of wine when it occurs after bottling
and during storage of wine, especially in wines with pH values
higher than 3.5. Malolactic fermentation tends to occur sponta-
neously in low-acid wines, where it is least wanted, and the out-
come of the modified flavours is unpredictable due the prolifera-
tion of some Lactobacillus and Pediococcus spp. (Henick-Kling
and Edinger, 1994; Zeeman et al., 1982). However, the occur-
rence of spontaneous malolactic fermentation in wineries is
unpredictable and irregular (Boulton et al., 1996; Davis et al.,
1986; Wibowo et al., 1985) and may take place immediately after
alcoholic fermentation or only weeks or months later, or only
after bottling if the wine has not been correctly stabilised
(Henick-Kling, 1995). The control of LAB is crucial during wine-
making, since their presence at the end of alcoholic fermentation
is beneficial, but detrimental to wine quality during maturation,
which is solely based on spontaneous chemical reactions that
result in the modification of wine aroma and colour (Lonvaud-
Funel, 1999).
Numerous physicochemical, chemical and biological condi-
tions in wine influence the development of MLF (Britz and
Tracey, 1990; Vaillant et al., 1995). The most important factors
that influence the onset and completion of MLF are the initial
wine composition, fermentation and storage temperature, as well
as interactions between LAB and other wine-related microorgan-
isms. Even with a complete understanding of MLF and the fac-
tors that play a role in the successful development of MLF, wine
remains a hostile environment to LAB. Numerous advances have
therefore been made in the field of MLF starter culture produc-
tion as well as some other alternative technologies for the suc-
cessful development of MLF in wine. Winemakers can intention-
ally induce MLF in “resistant” wines by blending them with wine
that is undergoing, or which has already completed, MLF
(Castino et al., 1975). Based on their survival abilities, specific
strains of O. oeni have been selected for the commercial produc-
tion of liquid, lyophilised or freeze-dried starter cultures for the
inoculation of wine to ensure successful MLF (Henick-Kling,
1995). Although no official data are available on the prevalence
of induced MLF in commercial wine production, roughly 75% of
all red wines and 40% of white wines usually undergo induced
MLF (Maicas, 2001; Ough, 1992).
Starter cultures of LAB are selected according to strict criteria
(Davis et al., 1985; Vaillant et al., 1995). The strains must have a
fast growth rate under winemaking conditions and should not
produce any off-flavours or off-odours. Malolactic strains are fur-
ther selected for their tolerance to low pH (pH < 3.0), high
ethanol levels of up to 14% (v/v) and non-lysogenic characteris-
tics after phage infection (Drici-Cachon et al., 1996). Lastly, the
strains should have good growth characteristics and be suitable
for drying to make their commercial production economically
viable in terms of type and cost of culturing media (Kunkee,
1991). Strains of LAB can also be selected based on their inabil-
ity to produce biogenic amines such as histamine. With the help
of PCR, DNA probes and activity assays, strains of LAB can now
be screened for the presence of the amino acid decarboxylase
genes (Costantini et al., 2006; Le Jeune et al., 1995; Lonvaud-
Funel, 2001; Marcobal et al., 2004;).
The availability of active bacterial starter cultures to induce
MLF has certainly contributed to many successful applications of
this secondary ‘fermentation’. However, the completion of malo-
lactic fermentation cannot be guaranteed and starter culture delay
or failure is not unusual under certain conditions (Beelman and
Gallander, 1979; Guerzoni et al., 1995). Reactivation conditions
of freeze-dried starter cultures before inoculation into wine also
play a role in the successful completion of malolactic fermenta-
tion (Nault et al., 1995), since direct inoculation of starter cul-
tures in wine leads to loss of viability (Davis et al., 1985; Nielsen
et al., 1996).
Alternative technologies to develop MLF in wine
Persistent problems with bacterial starter cultures have driven the
search for other alternatives to ensure rapid and reliable proces-
sion of MLF in wine. The use of bioreactors with free or immo-
bilised strains of LAB, as well as cell-free bioreactors with
immobilised malolactic enzyme and cofactors, have been evalu-
ated for application in wine deacidification (Gao and Fleet, 1994;
Maicas, 2001; Spettoli et al., 1982, 1984, 1987). The major prob-
lems associated with these technologies involve the degree of dif-
ficulty to prepare matrixes, the use of unacceptable chemicals in
wine and the unsuccessful scaling-up of free or immobilised
S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., Vol. 27, No. 2, 2006
Malic acid in wine
high-density cell bioreactors for industrial application.
Furthermore, cell-free bioreactors using only immobilised
enzymes have thus far not been completely effective in convert-
ing L-malic acid to lactic acid.
Genetic engineering of strains of S. cerevisiae to degrade
L-malic acid is an important alternative that has a significant
potential for the wine industry. Molecular biologists have
attempted to transfer the malolactic activity of LAB into S. cere-
visiae to enable the yeast to execute the alcoholic and malolactic
fermentation simultaneously. Williams et al. (1984) expressed the
gene for malolactic activity of L. delbrueckii in S. cerevisiae,but
the recombinant strain of S. cerevisiae only managed to
metabolise 1% and 1.5% (w/v) L-malic acid in synthetic media
and grape must, respectively. The L-malic acid assimilating activ-
ity from O. oeni was also cloned and expressed in E. coli and
yeast, but due to DNA stability problems the research was not fur-
ther pursued (Lautensach and Subden, 1984). Nearly a decade
later, the mleS genes of L. lactis and O. oeni were subcloned
under control of the strong, constitutive 3-phosphoglycerate
kinase (PGK1) promoter and terminator sequence of S. cerevisi-
ae and successfully expressed in a laboratory strain of S. cere-
visiae (Ansanay et al., 1993; Denayrolles et al., 1994; 1995;
Labarre et al., 1996). Both the E. coli and S. cerevisiae strains
containing the mleS gene produced malolactic activity, but they
were still unable to efficiently degrade L-malic acid under wine-
making conditions.
The main limitation of the above attempts to genetically engi-
neer S. cerevisiae with a malolactic pathway is ascribed to the
slow, inefficient uptake of L-malic acid via simple diffusion by
the yeast (Grobler et al., 1995). Expression of the malolactic gene
(mleS) in yeast was therefore not adequate to improve S. cere-
visiae’s ability to degrade L-malic acid (Ansanay et al., 1996).
Pre-empting the requirement of a S. cerevisiae with a functional
malate transport mechanism, cloning and characterisation of the
malate permease gene (mae1) and the malic enzyme gene (mae2)
of S. pombe were undertaken (Grobler et al., 1995; Subden et al.,
1998; Viljoen et al., 1994). Co-expression of the malate trans-
porter gene (mae1) of S. pombe and the malolactic enzyme gene
of L. lactis and O. oeni in a laboratory strain of S. cerevisiae
resulted in a recombinant strain of S. cerevisiae that actively
transported L-malic acid and efficiently converted it to lactic acid
(Volschenk et al., 1997a, 1997b; 2004). The recombinant S. cere-
visiae strain was able to perform alcoholic and malolactic fer-
mentation simultaneously, rendering malolactic fermentation
with LAB redundant.
The malate transporter gene (mae1) of S. pombe and the malo-
lactic enzyme gene of O. oeni were subsequently stably integrat-
ed in the genomes of an industrial Prise de Mousse wine yeast
strain in a pioneering endeavour to develop a commercially avail-
able wine yeast strain with the ability to degrade L-malic acid dur-
ing alcoholic fermentation (Husnik et al., 2006). The ML01 yeast
has received Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) status from the
US FDA and has been commercialised in the USA and Moldavia.
The application of the malolactic wine yeast ML01 has resulted
in efficient malolactic fermentation, lower volatile acidity and
improved colour properties of wine (Husnik, unpublished). Ethyl
carbamate was lower in wines produced with ML01 compared to
wines produced with the parental strain S92 and LAB.
Wine acidity and pH play a crucial role in the winemaking process
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acid and L-malic are the major grape acids, contributing to more
than 90% of the TA in wine (Beelman and Gallander, 1979; Gao
and Fleet, 1994; Henick-Kling, 1993; Radler, 1993). The produc-
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acidity in relation to the other wine components to obtain a bal-
anced wine with an optimum flavour and colour profile. In low
acid wines, acidulating agents such as L-tartaric acid or D/L-malic
acid are routinely added prior to fermentation to increase the TA
of must to ensure an optimal acid:sugar ratio in grape must
(Beelman and Gallander, 1979; Boulton et al., 1996). The tradi-
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acid to L-lactic acid and CO2during malolactic fermentation by
strains of O. oeni. However, due to inherent problems associated
with malolactic fermentation and its unsuitability in some fruity-
floral cultivars, alternative biological methods for the deacidifica-
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Deacidification of wine with a malo-degrading yeast strain may
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hazardous compounds such as biogenic amines and ethyl carba-
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due to the simultaneous completion of alcoholic fermentation and
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... Much of the interest in L-malate biosensors stems from the importance of this compound in winemaking, and here there is additional complexity. During grape maturation, L-malate decreases rapidly from approximately 200 mM to 30-50 mM and this change can inform harvesting decisions (Olego et al., 2015;Volschenk et al., 2006). However, when malolactic fermentation is used during winemaking, it becomes important to monitor a different concentration range, from 5-10 mM down to 1 mM or less. ...
... Indeed, it is possible that the linear range is even higher but a different buffering system would be required to determine this. Critically for real-world implementation of a biosensor, 200 mM is the maximum concentration of L-malate found in grapes and fruit juices (Li et al., 2020;Volschenk et al., 2006). In turn, this means that our biosensor can be used to quantify L-malate in grape, wine, and juice samples without any need to dilute them first. ...
... Nevertheless, these features of our devices make them highly suitable for monitoring the large L-malate changes that can be associated with food and beverage processing. For example, the operational parameters of our biosensor with Mg 2+ make it appropriate for measuring the >5 mM per day change in L-malate that can occur as wine grapes grow and mature (Volschenk et al., 2006). On the other hand, using Mn 2+ and citrate in our device showed improved sensitivity and an LOD of 180 μM while retaining a millimolar linear range (Figure 3d), making it better suited for monitoring the removal of L-malate during the winemaking process of malolactic fermentation. ...
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L‐Malate is a key flavour enhancer and acidulant in the food and beverage industry, particularly winemaking. Enzyme‐based amperometric biosensors offer convenience for monitoring its concentration. However, only a small number of off‐the‐shelf malate‐oxidising enzymes have been used in previous devices. These typically have linear ranges poorly suited for the L‐malate concentrations found in fruit processing and winemaking, making it necessary to use precisely diluted samples. Here we describe a pipeline of database‐mining, gene synthesis, recombinant expression and spectrophotometric assays to characterise previously‐untested enzymes for their suitability in biosensors. The pipeline yielded a bespoke biocatalyst—the Ascaris suum malic enzyme carrying mutation R181Q [AsME(R181Q)]. Our first prototype with AsME(R181Q) had an ultra‐wide linear range of 50‐200 mM L‐malate, corresponding to concentrations found in undiluted fruit juices (including grape). Changing the dication from Mg 2 + to Mn 2 + increased sensitivity five‐fold and adding citrate (100 mM) increased it another six‐fold, albeit decreasing the linear range to 1‐10 mM. To our knowledge, this is the first time an L‐malate biosensor with a tuneable combination of sensitivity and linear range has been described. The sensor response was also tested in the presence of various molecules abundant in juices and wines, with ascorbate shown to be a potent interferent. Interference was mitigated by the addition of ascorbate oxidase, allowing for differential measurements on an undiluted, untreated wine sample that corresponded well with commercial L‐malate testing kits. Overall, this work demonstrates the power of an enzyme‐centric approach for designing electrochemical biosensors with improved operational parameters and novel functionality. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... After alcoholic fermentation its quantity was reduced to 4.2-4.9 g/l (Volschenk, et al., 2006). These data are relevant because it is known from the literature that the amount of organic acids decreases by 1.0 g/l during alcoholic fermentation. ...
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In the paper, Georgian aboriginal species of vine, such as: Kakhis Tetri, Vardisperi Rkatsiteli, Lechkhumis Odjaleshi and their agricultural technological characteristics and use for the production of different types of wines are discussed. Within the mentioned research, we gain new knowledge about the given species on the basis of comparative analysis that provides an interesting basis for further research in this direction.
... Interestingly, for the biofilm condition the nature of biomarkers annotated in data bases was clearly different since compounds of the TCA cycle were highlighted. This result suggest that biofilms cells are able to resist to wine conditions by the regulation of redox and amino acid metabolism (Mendes Ferreira and Mendes-Faia, 2020;Volschenk et al., 2006). In addition, organic acids have been reported to have antioxidant activity, antibiotic, antimicrobial properties and improve wine stability and aroma (Chidi et al., 2015). ...
... The content of malic acid in the monitored wine samples ranged from 0.35 to 4.01 g·L −1 . The malic acid content is variable, depending on the biochemical processes during fermentation and wine aging [26]. ...
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The FTIR-ATR method coupled with the multivariate analysis of specific spectral areas of samples was developed to characterize two white grape varieties (Sauvignon Blanc and Hibernal) and two blue grape varieties (André and Cabernet Moravia) of wine planted and harvested in the Moravia region, Czech Republic. Principal component analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis were performed using fingerprint regions of FTIR spectra for all wines. The results obtained by principal component analysis in combination with linear discriminant analysis (PCA-LDA) scores yielded clear separation between the four classes of samples and showed very good discrimination between the wine samples, with a 91.7% overall classification rate for the samples. The conducted FTIR spectroscopy studies coupled with chemometrics allowed for the swift analysis of multiple wine components with minimal sample preparation. These methods can be used in research to improve specific properties of these wines, which will undoubtedly enhance the quality of the final wine samples obtained.
... The successful conversion of malic acid to lactic acid using L. casei and Lactococcus oenos, known as malolactic fermentation, has been reported in wine [53,54]. Lactic acid has also been produced in fermented food and beverages, such as kimchi and wine, which involve both lactic acid bacteria and yeast [55][56][57]. Lactic acid was identified as the primary non-volatile organic acid that increased gradually throughout fermentation. It has been observed that kefir microorganisms were able to increase the lactic acid concentration along with other acids present in the fermentation medium (p < 0.05). ...
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This study investigated changes in the microbial growth and chemical characteristics of coconut water kefir (CWK) during fermentation. The carbohydrate profile, in terms of glucose and sucrose consumption, production of carboxylic acids, and changes in amino acid profile, was determined during CWK fermentation over a period of 96 h. The results showed that the kefir grains were able to utilise both glucose and sucrose and produce significant quantities of carboxylic acids after 96 h of fermentation. The total titratable acidity significantly increased throughout 96 h of incubation at 30 °C, which correlated to a significant drop in pH to 2.8 for CWK supplemented with 12 g/L of sucrose. In addition, this was accompanied by a significant increase in lactic acid, acetic acid, and pyruvic acid. During fermentation, a total of eighteen amino acids were generated, with a notable decline observed across all amino acids. Among them, glutamic acid exhibited a higher concentration compared to the other amino acids. The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) results confirmed a higher density of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and acetic acid bacteria (AAB), with fewer yeast cells through morphological identification. Overall, the findings support the notion that coconut water fermented with kefir could be used as a potential functional starter to produce other fermented food products or a refreshing beverage.
... The optimum temperature for the accumulation of malic acid during grape ripening was estimated to be around 20°C (Lakso and Kliewer, 1975), while the negative correlation between high temperatures and MA content after veŕaison was reported by many studies (Rienth et al., 2016;Blank et al., 2019). Preserving malic acid degradation made it possible to contrast the decrease of the acidic level in must (Volschenk et al., 2006), which is a desirable condition for sparkling wine production (Jones et al., 2014). In the present study, the positive effect of cooler temperatures on must quality was revealed in 2011, when high values of indicators of suboptimal temperature and optimal temperature were recorded. ...
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Climate change is a major concern in agriculture; in grapevine production, climate change can affect yield and wine quality as they depend on the complex interactions between weather, plant material, and viticultural techniques. Wine characteristics are strongly influenced by microclimate of the canopy affecting primary and secondary metabolites of the grapevine. Air temperature and water availability can influence sugar and acid concentration in grapes and relative wines, and their content of volatile compounds such as norisoprenoids. This becomes relevant in sparkling wine production where grapes are generally harvested at a relatively low pH, high acidity, and low sugar content and where the norisoprenoids significantly contributes to the final aroma of the wine. The effect of climate change on grapevine and wine, therefore, calls for the implementation of on-field adaptation strategies. Among them canopy management through leaf removal and shading have been largely investigated in the wine growing sector. The present study, conducted over 4 years (2010-2013) aims at investigating how leaf removal and artificial shading strategies affect grape maturation, must quality and the production of norisoprenoids, analyzed using an untargeted approach, in sparkling wine. Specifically, this paper investigates the effect of meteorological conditions (i.e., water availability and temperatures) and the effect of leaf removal and shading on Vitis vinifera L. cv. Chardonnay and Pinot noir, which are suitable to produce sparkling wine in the DOCG Franciacorta wine growing area (Lombardy, Italy). The effect of leaf removal and shading practices on norisoprenoids has been the focus of the study. No defoliation and artificial shading treatments play an important role in the preservation of the acidity in warm seasons and this suggests calibrating defoliation activities in relation to the meteorological trend without standardized procedures. This is particularly relevant in the case of sparkling wine, where the acidity is essential to determine wine quality. The enhanced norisoprenoid aromas obtained with a total defoliation represent a further element to direct defoliation and shading strategies. The obtained results increase knowledge about the effect of different defoliation and artificial shading applications in relation to meteorological condition supporting the management decision-making in the Franciacorta wine growing area.
... В отношении зависимостей между дисахаром сахарозой наблюдаются зависимости с яблочной и винной кислотами, а коэффициент детерминации системы показывает влияние 15% органических соединений, не учтенных с многофункциональной модели. Интересно отметить, что яблочная и лимонная кислоты составляют кислый вкус напитков, а сочетание винной и яблочных кислот компенсирует кислый вкус более нейтральным на фоне сладкого воздействия моносахаров при воздействии на вкусовые рецепторы [3]. На наш взгляд, приведенная в таблице 3 математический анализ, позволяет проследить соблюдение в растительной матрице пивного напитка баланса сладкое-кислое. ...
Conference Paper
В работе рассмотрена проблема взаимодействия углеводных и кислотных комплексов в сложной макроструктуре формирования вкусовых сочетаний. Рассчитаны коэффициенты корреляции множественной линейной зависимости. Приведена корреляционная взаимосвязь индивидуальных углеводов и кислот. Проведенный математический анализ, позволяет проследить соблюдение в растительной матрице пивного напитка баланса сладкое-кислое.
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Marinating is a traditional method of improving the quality of meat, but it has been modified in response to consumer demand for “clean label” products. The aim of this review is to present scientific literature on the natural ingredients contained in marinades, the parameters of the marinating process, and certain mechanisms that bring about changes in meat. A review was carried out of publications from 2000 to 2023 available in Web of Science on the natural ingredients of meat marinades: fruit and vegetables, seasonings, fermented dairy products, wine, and beer. The review showed that natural marinades improve the sensory quality of meat and its culinary properties; they also extend its shelf life. They affect the safety of meat products by limiting the oxidation of fats and proteins. They also reduce biogenic amines and the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This is possible due to the presence of biologically active substances and competitive microflora from dairy products. However, some marinades, especially those that are acidic, cause a slightly acidic flavour and an unfavourable colour change. Natural compounds in the ingredients of marinades are accepted by consumers. There are no results in the literature on the impact of natural marinades on the nutritional value and health-promoting potential of meat products, so it can be assumed that this is a future direction for scientific research.
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Global warming is directly linked to a lower concentration in organic acids in grape berries, leading to higher pHs in wine. Because of this lack of acidity, many important factors are impacted, as wine acidity and pH play a crucial role in various equilibriums. Indeed, the lower acidity and the higher pH modify the parameters of wine, such as free and molecular sulfur dioxide availability, colour and sensory aspects. Therefore, it is an ongoing challenge for winemakers to deal with wine acidification and thus preserve wine physico-chemical properties and prevent early spoilage due to microbiological instability induced by high pH. Different acidification methods are allowed by the OIV, chemical acidification being one the most common, followed by physical acidification and microbiological acidification. This review examines these three methods of acidification. The first part details chemical acidification and gives a complete description of various organic acids used in winemaking, and their different properties and regulations; the second part focuses on physical acidification, such as cation exchange resins and electrodialysis; and the last part briefly reviews the novelty of microbiological acidification in wine.
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The effect of shading on the performance of Cabernet Sauvignon was studied. Significant different levels of canopy density were created using the growth of neighbouring vines, thus ensuring no artificial change in natural light composition. Light penetration in these canopies differed significantly between treatments. Berry mass, bunch mass and yield as well as skin colour were decreased with increasing levels of shading, while pH, K-concentration and TT A were increased. Tartaric acid decreased while malic acid increased with an increase in shading. Wine quality was negatively affected.
Biogenic amines are important nitrogen compounds of biological importance in vegetable, microbial and animal cells. They can be detected in both raw and processed foods. In food microbiology they have sometimes been related to spoilage and fermentation processes. Some toxicological characteristics and outbreaks of food poisoning are associated with histamine and tyramine. Secondary amines may undergo nitrosation and form nitrosamines. A better knowledge of the factors controlling their formation is necessary in order to improve the quality and safety of food.