Wine Talk

Snooth User: John Andrews

Malolactic fermentation ???

Posted by John Andrews, May 14, 2008.

Okay, I have what may be a silly question but I'm going to ask it any way.

May people have heard of the term Malolactic Fermentation. First off all, it isn't really fermentation but the transition of harsh malic acid to the more tame lactic acid. The term is often used in conjunction with Chardonnay.

So here is my question ... do all wines go through malolactic fermentation?

I know that the sharp, crisp whites do not but what about reds? I've never heard that the do but I have never heard that the don't.




Reply by Philip James, May 14, 2008.

John - you know i have no idea about reds, but its most commonly associated with Chardonnay. What I know is this: Malic acid is the stuff that makes chardonnays taste like green apples and gives them that refreshing taste. The winemaker can choose to have the wine undergo malolactic fermentation, by which, as you state, the malic acid converts to lactic acid. Lactic acid (think lactose / milk) gives the wine the soft buttery fat taste that many chardonnays have.

So, its possible to have a white wine on either side of this 'fermentation', i just know how this applies to reds...

Reply by Philip James, May 14, 2008. - according to Jimmy Wales, most reds go through it too, but most is not ALL, and interestingly I've only ever heard the term in conjunction with Chardonnay's.

Reply by John Andrews, May 14, 2008.

Actually, I have heard the butter taste that is prominent in some Chardonnays is a result of diacetyl which, with CO2, is a byproduct of malolactic fermentation.

Reply by Philip James, May 15, 2008.

Wikipedia shows diacetyl, and several other compounds as resulting from lactic acid bacteria:

Still, we've established that malolactic acid may or may not be used on chards... I think we can geek this up some more!

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