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A Malolactic fermentation (MLF) is a secondary bacterial fermentation by Leuconostoc oenos or Lactobacillus spp, which converts malic acid into lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
Wines which have undergone malolactic fermentation will typically have lowered acidity, reduced fruitiness, and softer and more complex character. This is often desirable in dry reds and in such dry white wines as Chardonnay and Viognier. Because it does reduce fruitiness, it is almost never desirable for 'fruity' Germanic style wines such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer, nor in any sweet wine.
Malolactic fermentation can occur spontaneously, but not always by desirable bacterial strains. In these cases, off odors are likely to develop, especially in wines with higher pH. For this reason we recommend the use of a malolactic culture in your home or commercially made wine. Malolactic cultures are bacteria that convert harsher malic acid to lactic acid. We are pleased to carry quality Viniflora malolactic cultures produced by Chr.Hansen laboratories.
Learn more about Malolactic Fermentation, or download our instruction sheet on Using Malolactic Cultures.