Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

How should I explain malolactic fermentation to a guest in my restaurant in as few words as possible, but also be concise and educational?

—Charlie, Kansas City, Mo.

Dear Charlie,

You can refer to it as a chemical reaction that tones down a wine's acidity. Malolatic fermentation (or "malo," as the cool kids call it) is a secondary fermentation, in which sharp malic acids (think of the acidity of green apples) are converted into lactic acids (think of the creamy, soft acids in milk), making the wine softer and smoother. It's almost universal in red wines, while some whites are made with and some without malo.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.