High-pressure homogenization (HPH) was applied at 90 MPa to different yeasts prior to use or prior to their use in the preparation of tirage solutions for sparkling wines. The effects on yeast cell viability, fermentation, and death kinetics during secondary fermentation and aging were determined. Saccharomyces bayanus L951 and Saccharomyces cerevisiae ML692 and commercial strains S. bayanus Lalvin CH14, S. bayanus IOC 18-2007, S. bayanus Lalvin EC1118, and S. bayanus IT 1818 were used as starters. Chemical characteristics and volatile compound profiles of the final sparkling wines produced with either HPH-treated or HPH-nontreated yeast were assessed. Results showed that sensitivity to HPH treatment was strain dependent, and after 40 days of secondary fermentation all samples reached pressure levels of at least 0.60795 MPa, independent of the HPH treatment, with the exception of those inoculated with strain ML692. Scanning electron microscope microphotographs of the samples aged for 40 days indicated for all strains an acceleration of autolysis due to HPH treatment. SPME-GC-MS and electronic nose data indicated significant changes due to HPH treatment. According to partial least squares analysis, the sparkling wines produced using HPH-treated cells, except strain L951, were significantly different from the control wines. High-pressure homogenization seems to be a versatile approach for modulation of the autolytic phenomena of starter tirage cultures of sparkling wines.
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