What’s Up With Wild Fermentation in Wine?

Tuesday, 26 March, 2019
Wine Folly
A wild-fermented wine uses native yeasts that are found on the fruit and in the vineyard.

“You can find 50,000 yeast particles on a single wine grape.” 
–Carlo Mondavi, Raen Winery

Wines made with native yeast often taste different from those cultured yeast wines we’re so used to. Still, more winemakers are turning to native yeasts to produce top-of-the-line wines.

Here’s what to expect from a wild fermented wine and why native yeast is fundamentally changing the fine wine market.

A Lil' History on Yeast

Louis Pasteur’s famous experiment in 1859 showed us that microbes are everywhere. Eventually, scientists learned to harness these little guys into yeast creams, cakes, and powders for commercial use.

Today, cultured yeasts are the norm. Brands like Lallemand and Scott Lab offer specialty yeast products designed to make the perfect Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, or Pinot Noir.

Tasting Wild Fermented Wines

When you use wild yeasts, the results are not always as consistent as with the traditional process, but they are always interesting. Here’s what we’ve observed in wild fermented wines:

White and Rosé Wines

Added texture and smoothness

Pay attention to texture when you taste a natural yeast wine. Because wild yeasts take longer to ferment, wines often have a more creamy, oily texture from the lees. In tasting, you might also note that wild whites are softer and smoother with less zippy acidity.

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