Using wine lees as an antioxidant in deer burgers

by | May 17, 2021 | South Africa Wine Scan

Consumers in Europe are constantly looking for healthier alternatives to traditional meat products. Venison from wild red deer has become popular over the past few years. The meat is considered “natural” because it is obtained from free-range animals that are free of hormones, antibiotics, and other products. Burgers from meat, and in this case red deer, are popular because of convenience and price. However, the processing (high fat content) and packaging of burgers make it more susceptible to oxidation. As a result, additives are added to extend the shelf life of patties. Consumers prefer natural antioxidants to synthetic ones and in this study wine lees were studied as a natural possibility.

Raw materials and ingredients:

  • Burgers were prepared from red deer meat and pork fat. Specifically boneless legs of wild stags and fat from female pigs.
  • Yeast lees (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) from verdejo and palomino wines were included in the burgers in different amounts, replacing the normal use of sodium ascorbate.
  • The burgers were stored in special packaging at 4°C and analysed on days 0, 4, 8 and 12. It was only tasted (raw and cooked) before storage.


  • Yeast lees preservation caused a reduction in pH and as a result protected the deer burgers from discoloration.
  • The yeast lees reduced the bacterial count in the burgers.
  • It provided a higher antioxidant capacity and phenolic content than sodium ascorbate. This resulted in higher protection against lipid and protein oxidation of the burgers.
  • The higher content of esters, acids and other volatile compounds provided the deer burgers with new odour and taste attributes. The burgers had attributes of wine, bakery and raisins.


Significance (or no significance) of the study:

The meat industry is continuously looking for natural alternatives to the chemical preservatives commonly used. Various waste products from winemaking have been investigated and proved useful in terms of their antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. The possibility therefore exists that soon consumers might be offered cultivar specific burgers e.g., Cabernet kudu, Sauvignon springbok, Barolo beef and Pinotage pork. Or not.

Food (and wine) for thought…


Alarcón, M.; López-Viñas, M.; Pérez-Coello, M.S.; Díaz-Maroto, M.C.; Alañón, M.E.; Soriano, A. Effect of Wine Lees as Alternative Antioxidants on Physicochemical and Sensorial Composition of Deer Burgers Stored during Chilled Storage. Antioxidants 20209, 687.

Image: Wikipedia

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