Geeking Out on Wine

I have been a little unavailable lately due to my concentration on studies, and one of the biggest reasons is the material I am studying. 

When I have something to write about, I want it to be fascinating to the reader, regardless if they like wine or not.  Lately, when I am trying to memorize the villages of Assmanshausen or what “GD” stands for on a bottle of Marsala, I am not inspired to blog.  Call me crazy, but I believe I could lose a few readers if I wrote about these obscure (and not that interesting) topics.

However, I did enjoy a wine geeky conversation with a customer the other day, and while it was quite intense, I thought it might be interesting to some readers who enjoy a little science lesson.

Tell me about malolactic fermentation. 

Basically, it’s a fermentation process where the malic acid in the wine is turned into lactic acid. 

Translation:  apple-like acid is turned into milky-like acid. 

Why?  What’s the point?  Which wines undergo malolactic? 

Almost all red wines undergo malolactic, and many whites do as well.  In fact, all wines will undergo malolactic fermentation if it isn’t controlled.  To control it, temperatures must stay lower.  Once temperatures in the cellar escalate, wines will automatically malolactate.  In case you’re wondering, I just made up that word. 

So, if malolactic occurs in almost all red wines, what white wines are the “chosen ones?”  Think about Chardonnay and fuller-bodied grapes that often want to integrate oak treatment into the wine. 

The wines that often do not undergo malolactic fermentation are Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Vinho Verde, or other similar white wines.  Often, winemakers want to keep that fresh acidity alive and not alter with its personality.  And, of course, there are other times, when the acidity is meant to be toned down so that the wine is in balance. 

I know this might not be the most interesting topic, but maybe, just maybe someone has always wondered about malolactic yet been too afraid to ask.  Doubtful, but it couldn’t hurt to take the chance.

Comments on this entry are closed.