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May. 26, 2020 | Tuesday
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It's a Wine Thang! Malolactic Fermentation
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Each week, the staff of Ravine Winery share their expertise and offer a brief explanation about an aspect of wine. So, whether you’re an expert oenophile or a newbie just finding your way around wine country, we trust you’ll enjoy. Cheers!

This week’s definition: Malolactic Fermentation

Malolactic fermentation is a winemaking process where malic acid is converted to lactic acid. First let’s talk about fermentation in general. The grapes are harvested and then pressed to extract the juices. The juice is then inoculated with yeast to begin fermentation. The yeast will consume the sugars in the juice converting it to alcohol.  Canadians tend to like dryer wines so fermentation is allowed to run through all the natural sugars.  Malolactic fermentation is a secondary fermentation performed on most red wines and on some whites, primarily Chardonnay.  Not using yeast this time but a desirable bacterium called…wait for it…Oenococcus oeni.  This process can sometimes occur naturally but more often by inoculation.  Malic acid is tart tasting, much like the skin of a green apple.   Lactic acid is softer tasting and gives the wine a rounder, more oily mouth feel.  In the case of Chardonnay, lactic acid gives a buttery flavour from diacetyl which is a byproduct of the chemical reaction.