In the world of winemaking, tradition and innovation have always been side by side, on the one hand a culture of several centuries and on the other the need to constantly improve and answer new challenges. Consumers’ preferences, climate changes, and fermentation efficiency are some of the modern questions that winemakers have to consider. Yeast, at the center of the fermentation, has revealed itself as the perfect platform to answer many of these challenges. By understanding the metabolism and the genetic basis that modulate specific phenotypes of yeast during fermentation, an era of yeast optimization has surfaced in the last decades and pushed research even further. In this chapter we will focus the attention on two of the most successful techniques to that end, quantitative trait locus (QTL) and evolutionary engineering. QTL relies on a highly precise identification of the genome regions that control a phenotype of interest. The transfer of these regions to selected wine yeasts is then possible by a technique called backcrossing. Evolutionary engineering induces the yeast itself to modify its genetic background to adapt to a selective pressure and improve its fitness. The right choice of pressure leads to the improvement of its performances in enological conditions.
Part of the book: Advances in Grape and Wine Biotechnology