Yeast isolates from commercial red wines were characterized with regards to tolerances to molecular SO2, ethanol, and temperature as well as synthesis of 4-ethyl-phenol/4-ettiyl-guaiacol in grape juice or wine. Based on rDNA sequencing, nine of the 11 isolates belonged to Dekkera bruxellensis (B1a, B1b, B2a, E1, F1a, F3, I1a, N2, and P2) while the other two were Candida pararugosa (Q2) and Pichia guilliermondii (Q3). Strains Bib, Q2, and Q3 were much more resistant to molecular SO2 in comparison to the other strains of Dekkera. These strains were inoculated (10(3)-10(4) cfu/ml) along with lower populations of Saccharomyces (<500 cfu/ml) into red grape juice and red wine incubated at two temperatures, 15 degrees C and 21 degrees C. Although Saccharomyces quickly dominated fermentations in grape juice, Bib and Q2 grew and eventually reached populations >10(5) cfu/ml. In wine, Q3 never entered logarithmic growth and quickly died in contrast to Q2 which survived >40 days after inoculation. Bib grew well in wine incubated at 21 degrees C while slower growth was observed at 15 degrees C. Neither Q2 nor Q3 produced 4-ethyl-phenol or 4-ethyl-guaiacol, unlike Bib. However, lower concentrations of volatile phenols were present in wine incubated at 15 degrees C compared to 21 degrees C.