Within the field of predictive microbiology, the number of studies that quantify the effect of food structure on microbial behavior is very limited. This is mainly due to impracticalities related to the use of a nonliquid growth medium. In this study, an experimental food model system for studying yeast spoilage in acid sauces was developed by selecting a suitable thickening/gelling agent. In a first step, a variety of thickening/gelling agents was screened, with respect to the main physicochemical (pH, water activity, and acetic acid and sugar concentrations) and rheological (weak gel viscoelastic behavior and presence of a yield stress) characteristics of acid sauces. Second, the rheological behavior of the selected thickening/gelling agent, Carbopol 980, was extensively studied within the following range of conditions: pH 4.0 to 5.0, acetic acid concentration of 0 to 1.0% (vol/vol), glycerol concentration of 0 to 15% (wt/vol), and Carbopol concentration of 1.0 to 1.5% (wt/vol). Finally, the applicability of the model system was illustrated by performing growth experiments in microtiter plates for Zygosaccharomyces bailii at 0, 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5% (wt/vol) Carbopol, 5% (wt/vol) glycerol, 0% (vol/vol) acetic acid, and pH 5.0. A shift from planktonic growth to growth in colonies was observed when the Carbopol concentration increased from 0.5 to 1.0%. The applicability of the model system was illustrated by estimating mu(max) at 0.5% Carbopol from absorbance detection times.