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Autolysis

Term for the independent enzymatic dissolution (autolytic = self-dissolving or also self-digesting) of protein molecules and other cell components without the aid of bacteria. In winemaking, this usually describes the gradual dissolution of dead yeast cells during the bottle fermentation of sparkling wine or mainly for white wines where the technique of yeast sedimentation is used. The amino acids and mannoproteins released during this process have a very positive effect on the taste and consistency of the wine. The longer the wine is left on the lees, the more of these substances dissolve in the wine and give it its typical yeasty and creamy taste. The wine gains volume and aromatic complexity. A long yeast storage period also improves the shelf life of wines (see also ageing, bottle ageing and shelf life).

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