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Malolactic Fermentation | The Wine Virgin
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Malolactic Fermentation

March 31, 2008

Can you tell me what malolactic fermentation is and what does it do? - Don in Gulfport, MS

Malolactic fermentation is a process where the tart malic acid is converted to a softer tasting lactic acid. Think of malic acid like the taste of green apples which is then converted into lactic acids, an example being the creamy, soft acids in milk. This process can occur at any time during or after the normal wine fermentation process.

It is generally thought to enhance the body and flavor and in turn produces soft and fuller wines. Many wine makers also feel that better a integration of the fruit and oak character is achieved if malolactic fermentation occurs during the time the wine is in barrel.

Yet, not all wines will benefit from this with Riesling being a perfect example. The best wines that get the most out of this process are full bodied dry whites and medium to full bodied dry reds. With these types of wines, malolactic fermentation is sometimes encouraged. The simple and practical reason being is that this process can spontaneously happen even after the wine has been bottled.

So Don, being curious as all wine virgins should be helps you to learn little bits of wine trivia here and there, making you appreciate how incredibly complex and time consuming creating a stable wine really is. Cheers!!

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