White Wine Malolactic Fermentation
The Use of Malolactic Fermentation in White Wine Production
Malolactic fermentation is used by winemakers to lower the percieved acidity in their wines. This process produces a chemical called diacetyl that is responsible for the buttery flavors often perceived in these wines. Great care is taken to avoid the process in the production of many white wines that are valued for their fresh, fruit forward characteristics.
Improved clarification techniques were developed in the 1980s that have give winemakers significant control over malolactic fermentation. Certain types of bacteria are required for malolactic fermentation to occur. They naturally occur on grape skins and can also be added to the must. Another byproduct of the process is carbonic gas. Not all of the malic acid is converted and some remains in the finished wine.
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