Sparkling wines elaborated using the traditional method undergo a second fermentation in the bottle. This process involves an ageing time in contact with the lees, which enriches the wine in various substances, especially proteins, mannoproteins and polysaccharides, thanks to the autolysis of the yeasts. As a result of this yeast autolysis, sparkling wines benefit from better integration of carbon dioxide and a clear sensory improvement, especially in the case of long ageing. This chapter synthesises the main results about the influence of yeast autolysis on sparkling wines’ composition and quality, with particular emphasis on the capacity of the lees to release proteins and polysaccharides as well as on their ability to consume oxygen and thus protect the sparkling wines from oxidation.
Figure1: The influence of yeast lees on sparkling wine composition