The flavour of fermented beverages such as beer, cider, sake and wine owe much to the primary fermentation yeast used in their production, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Where once the role of yeast in fermented beverage flavour was thought to be limited to a small number of volatile esters and higher alcohols, the discovery that wine yeast release highly potent sulfur compounds from non-volatile precursors found in grapes has driven researchers to look more closely at how choice of yeast can influence wine style. This review explores recent progress towards understanding the range of 'flavour phenotypes' that wine yeast exhibit, and how this knowledge has been used to develop novel flavour-active yeasts. In addition, emerging opportunities to augment these phenotypes by engineering yeast to produce so-called grape varietal compounds, such as monoterpenoids, will be discussed.
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