Fermenting Flavours

Wine / Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

I hope you’ve all had a chance to catch up on last week’s blog.

And yes, I do talk about a scientific equation (yawn)…

Sugar (grape juice) + yeast = alcohol + gas

…but I think you would agree that an equation with the word “alcohol” after the “equals” sign is a good thing, even if maths and science isn’t really your thing!!

As we know by now, that equation (better known as Primary fermentation) is the first step to making wine.

Some wines stop at that step (like a nice fresh Sauvignon Blanc). Others are allowed to progress through another process called Secondary fermentation. It comes with its own equation…



This particular type of secondary fermentation is called Malolactic fermentation (or MLF). While this bacterial fermentation occurs naturally for most red wines, it is also a handy tool in the production of some white wines.

And Rob is a huge fan!

Let’s find out why…


What is MLF?

Technically speaking, it is a process in which tart-tasting malic acid is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid (hence “malo”-“lactic”).

MLF often occurs naturally after the completion of primary fermentation. Or sometimes it can run concurrently with the primary fermentation.

It can also be induced by inoculation with a selected bacterial strain – Oenococcus oeni, a member of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) family. This strain is chosen due to its ability to survive the harsh conditions of wine (high alcohol, low pH and low nutrients). It also produces some lovely flavours and aromas in the finished wine.


Why MLF?

MLF is super important when it comes to making (in particular) red wines. Malic acid in wine can be a carbon source for yeast and bacterial growth. And that can lead to spoilage, spritz, and unwanted flavours. Therefore it a process to microbiologically stabilise and protect the wine.

MLF can also be used to influence wine style. This is exactly what Rob likes to do with our Fumé Blanc, Chardonnay, and Rosé.

In addition to the important conversion of malic acid to softer lactic acid, MLF produces other chemical compounds which affect the aroma, flavour, and mouth-feel of the wine. Sensory terms such as ‘creamy’, ‘buttery’, ‘vanilla-like’, ‘nutty’, ‘spicy’, ‘fruity’, ‘vegetative’, ‘toasty’, ‘fuller’ and ‘rounded’ are used to describe MLF influences on wine.

You’ll definitely hear a few of these terms used when describing our Fumé, Chardy, and Rosé!


Easter at Somerled

We may be closed on Good Friday, but we’re here for all your wine and nibble needs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday this Easter long weekend. 

Join us for a glass of wine in the courtyard and make the most of the gorgeous weather this weekend!

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