Remember the story of Victor Frankenstein? How the doctor attempted an experiment that went terribly wrong? That’s what we have here this week. Or actually, it’s what wine makers can run into during the malolactic fermentation process. See, some white grapes contain high acid content (malic acid), and winemakers want to take the edge off the acid. Therefore, they put the wine through a process called “malolactic fermentation”, in which the malic acid is converted into gentler, lactic acid. This can add creamy, buttery notes to a wine, which can be highly desirable.
But winemaking is a science, and science can be unpredictable. Sometimes, something can go wrong during this step, and that something - or in the analogy of Frankenstein, the monster’s fury - is excessive butyric acid. Butyric acid in wine imparts the scent or flavor Parmesan cheese or vomit.
How ironic that in trying to improve wine something like this happens.
Rose ‘N’ Blum Pinot Grigio California 2012 ($6.99) does just this. The bottle is attractive, with an eye-catching rose on the front label. It’s soft yellow in color, and the nose shows oranges, green apple, lemon, unripe pear, and a bit of hot alcohol. It’s off-dry, and the butyric acid is forefront on the palate; butter, pineapple, and peach show up after. The finish is short. Even after allowing the wine to breath for a while longer, the unmistakable taste of the butyric acid lingers.
Do all of the bottles taste like this? Probably not. But for now, use this for cooking if you want to get a bottle.