The alcoholic fermentation is a crucial winemaking step. Its failure is problematic. In spite of several studies to understand and elucidate these problems wine global microbial ecology has never been considered. Using conventional microbiological methods and sensitive molecular tools we monitored the alcoholic fermentations of different red grape varieties in several cellars located in Bordeaux area. These observations were made during three successive vintages in different oenological conditions. The effect of the addition of commercial active dried yeast and of initial cold maceration was studied. All these factors were compiled and their effects on microbial changes were investigated. Some of them acted directly on the microbial population of berries surface at the harvest time and should have impact on alcoholic fermentation. They could modify the microbial changes which in some cases could lead to sluggish fermentation. In these cases, we focused on the Brettanomyces bruxellensis spoilage problem. The risk of further contamination was discussed according to the alcoholic fermentation development.
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