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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.
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.
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