Published in Wines & Vines
By Melissa Hansen, Washington State Wine Commission

June 2018

Once Brettanomyces bruxellensis takes hold in a winery, eradication is formidable, often requiring more than one approach to keep the wine spoilage yeast at bay. Recent findings by Washington State University show that the interaction between storage temperature and alcohol concentration may be a useful tool to manage Brettanomyces.

Brett, as it is commonly called in the wine industry, is a wild yeast associated with the spoilage of red wine. Unlike other yeasts such as Saccharomyces, which converts sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide, Brett is very difficult to control. Though some wineries prefer the earthy and gamey aromas imparted by small amounts of Brett in red wine and believe it adds complexity and aging ability to young wines, a little can quickly turn into too much. When concentrations exceed sensory thresholds, Brett can result in wine with “barnyard” aromas that smell like a wet dog, horse stables, sweaty horse blankets, wet wool or sweaty shoes.

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Enology // Yeast //