Malolactic Fermentation

January 10, 2023 by
Maytte Rivera

Like every fruit juice, grape juice is composed of a variety of acids, being tartaric and malic acid the most abundant.  Malic acid is a sharp, bright acid found in many fruits, for example green apples. Malolactic fermentation, also known as malolactic conversion, is a process by which lactic acid bacteria converts tart malic acid into soft lactic acid (also found in milk). This usually happens after the alcoholic fermentation; it softens the acidity of the wine and imparts buttery flavor and creamy texture. Most white and rose wines, except for many Chardonnays, do not undergo this process in order to keep the acidity levels vivid. Most red wines undergo malolactic fermentation to soften the texture and balance all the components.

California is known for producing Chardonnays with rich texture and buttery flavors. For example, Ramey Vineyards from Russian River Valley is an example that undergoes full malolactic fermentation. However, lighter, fresher styles are trending, like Jordan Chardonnay, where only 25% of the wine undergoes this process, and then is blended with wine made in stainless steel tanks. Try both side by side to get a clear idea of how malolactic conversion affects the final product. Cheers!

Author: Maytte Rivera

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