November marks the return of our popular “Wine Word of the Week” series where you, our fabulous readers, get to suggest words about wine you’d like to learn more about. You can either leave your suggestion in the “Comments” section of this post or on our Facebook Fan Page by clicking here. If we use your word, your name is automatically entered into a drawing to win one FREE month of our Explorateur Wine Club, a $50 value! We select one lucky winner each month so your chances of winning are pretty good but remember – you have to play to win!
This month kicks off with our latest wine word, malolactic fermentation (aka “malo” or “ML”), a secondary fermentation which occurs after alcoholic fermentation, the process by which yeast converts the sugar present in grapes into alcohol. During malolactic fermentation, bacteria converts the tart-tasting malic acid (think green apples) present in wine into more approachable lactic acid (think milk) resulting in a creamy, buttery mouthfeel.
Malolactic fermentation, also more appropriately called malolactic conversion, is used in virtually all red wine as well as some fuller-bodied white wines such as Chardonnay to enhance the wine’s complexity and stability. On the flipside, white wines such as Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc do not undergo “malo” in order to preserve their desirable tart, acidic flavor profiles. Because malolactic fermentation can sometimes occur naturally, it needs to be prevented in certain instances through the addition of sulfur dioxide which kills any bacteria present in the wine, filtration which physically removes the bacteria, or the addition of an enzyme which discourages the process from occurring. Whether or not a wine has undergone malolactic fermentation has less to do with the wine’s quality and more to do with whether it can enhance the wine’s desired profile.
Now that you have learned about our latest Wine Word of the Week, it’s time for you to suggest your own! Just leave your suggestion in the “Comments” section below and stay tuned to see if we select your word. In the meantime you can check out previously selected Wine Words of the Week by clicking here.