The first use of yeast for winemaking is lost in the dawn of the first agricultural civilizations. There are reports of wine-making as far as 7400 years ago. Until middle of the last millennium, wines were mainly produced around the Mediterranean Sea and the Caucasus. Since then, winemaking spread with the European colonizers throughout the temperate regions of the world (Pretorius 2000). Until 1863, must fermentation was not well understood from a microbiological point of view. In that year, Pasteur showed that a living microorganism, the yeast, was responsible for the biotransformation of the sugar present in the must into ethanol and CO2. Although many genera and species of yeasts are found in the musts, the genus Saccharomyces, and mainly the species S. cerevisiae, is responsible for its biotransformation. Because of this, S. cerevisiae is referred as "the wine yeast" (Pretorius 2000).
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