June 12, 2023 by
Maytte Rivera

Botrytis cinerea is the scientific name of a type of fungus that affects grapes by piercing the skins and allowing water to evaporate, causing the fruit to shrink and become like a raisin.  It grows under specific weather conditions and can be very beneficial or entirely destructive.   When it is favorable, it is known as “noble rot” and develops when the grapes are already ripe, during cool, humid mornings that are followed by warm, sunny afternoons. This concentrates the sugars while maintaining high acid levels and adds complex flavors of honey and ginger.  If the weather is uncooperative and the afternoons are wet instead of sunny, the fungus will multiply quickly, and the grapes will spoil.  In this case, it is known as “gray rot”.

Noble rot is known as pourriture noble in France, edelfaule in Germany, and mufa nobile in Italy and the wines affected by it are called “botrytised”.  They are some of the most reputable sweet wines in the world, especially when they are from the regions of Tokaj in Hungary and Sauternes in France. Try a bottle of Chateau Barbier Sauternes with salty blue cheeses or a fresh fruit tart.  For a classic food pairing, pour a glass of Sauternes with seared foie gras and enjoy the luscious contrast.

Author: Maytte Rivera

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