Wild, Cultured or GM; Is Yeast a Fermenting Controversy?

Chapter Twelve. Part Five.

Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Fermentation Tank At Il Greppo in Tuscany.

Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Fermentation Tank At Il Greppo in Tuscany.

In an effort to tame the temperamental tribulations of fermentation, men have long tinkered with yeast, and as a result, winemakers now have many types of these little critters in their winemaking arsenal. Despite their differences, the one thing that all yeast organisms have figured out is how to convert sugar into alcohol, which is a far greater achievement than anything my college buddies have done with their lives.

Although wild yeast permeates the vineyards and wineries, many winemakers prefer to use cultured yeasts because they come from well-heeled families. Wild yeasts are uncultivated party animals and are therefore less predictable (of course unpredictable can also mean crazy-good). Think of it this way; uncultivated yeasts are like the wine bloggers of the fungi world but not quite as moldy.

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Of Esters & MLFs.

Chapter Twelve. Parts Three & Four.

The Ester Ouster

peaches 6c copySo what makes Cabernet Sauvignon smell like black currants and Viognier smell like peaches? The answer is only skin-deep – much like Jessica Simpson’s appeal or an outbreak of shingles.

The cellular make-up of grape skins hold barely detectable aromatic compounds that are magnified during fermentation. Without fermentation these compounds would remain trapped inside the grape skins and then this would be a boring blog about grapes that no one will read … as opposed to a boring blog about wine that no one will read.

The cellular make-up of different grape varieties translates into aromas that are unique to that variety. During fermentation these compounds interact with yeast, alcohol and acids to create flavor substances known as esters. These esters also develop and evolve after fermentation, as chemical reactions continue to take place as wine ages. I also continue to develop new chemical reactions as I age but I control them with Depends.

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