Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gettin' all Geeky up in here

Good morning, class. Today we will be learning about malolactic fermentation. If you hang out in wine bars or restaurants long enough, you will eventually hear someone try a wine and ask the waiter/sommelier/bartender/person next to them "Did this go through malo?" I wanted to very briefly, and in as little of a geeky manner, explain what that means. Every wine goes through alcoholic fermentation. Basically, yeast converts the sugar in the grapes into ethanol (the alcohol that makes you feel funny) and carbon dioxide (which blows off into the air- except for sparkling wine, where it is captured). Some wines go through a second fermentation. This second fermentation, which is called malolactic fermentation and involves bacteria, does not produce alcohol. Instead, it takes the malic acid that's in the wine and converts it to lactic acid....think of the difference between the tart acid in apples (malic), and the creamier acid in milk (lactic). This process happens in almost all red wines, and some white wines, resulting in a softer, smoother, more complex wine. This is also what causes the "butteryness" in many California Chardonnays. However, this isn't always what the winemaker wants. That is why something like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc doesn't go through it- they want to keep the tarter, crisper acids for those wines. So, the next time you try a wine that has either the buttery creaminess, or the "peaches and cream" thing going, it has probably gone through "malo". Clear as mud? Good.

Today, I have bubbly wine on my mind. This is probably because I'm headed to see my cousin get hitched in Dallas this weekend, and bubbly wine will probably be had. Therefore I propose that you go out this weekend and get a bottle of Gruet Blanc de Noirs. This wine is made in the champagne method (another geeky conversation for another day), but hails from the land of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Yes, you read that correctly- New Mexico. It is a blend of 75% pinot noir, and 25% chardonnay grapes. Seriously, I would put this wine up against many of the Champagnes (from France) at 2 or 3x the price and most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Go get a bottle, which should cost you about $16, chill it down, pop the cork, and enjoy!

Cheers, and congratulations Emily!

1 comment:

  1. Great info on the malo fermentation. Thanks for sharing and have fun in Dallas!