Wine Word of the Week: Malolactic fermentation

By Kori ~ October 30th, 2012.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is malolactic fermentation.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Malolactic fermentation is the conversion of stronger malic acid naturally present in new wine into lactic acid (which has lower acidity) and carbon dioxide. …. It is accomplished by lactic acid bacteria, which are naturally present in most established wineries but may have to be cultured and carefully introduced in newer establishments where malolactic fermentation is desired. ….

Malolactic fermentation is desirable in wines which have excessive acidity, particularly red wines produced in cooler climates. It can also add flavor and complexity to both red and white wines, as well as rendering the wine impervious to the danger of malolactic fermentation in bottle.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Malolactic fermentation is the winemaking process during which malic acid is converted to lactic acid, thereby softening the taste of the wine.

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