Ever wonder why some wines have a rich, buttery taste similar to popcorn topping?
Well, the answer is surprisingly simple. Both have diacetyl, which during a wine’s milolactic fermentation, creates the same buttery flavor as in popcorn and margarine. This by-product occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages and is added to some foods to add buttery flavor.
According to a winemaker in the know, Chardonnay winemakers especially promote diacetyl as a “Butter Bomb” in their wine. When you are fermenting or aging in barrels this (malolactic) bacteria may or may not be present. So, winemakers have a choice to allow it to stay, introduce the bacteria or try to prevent it from happening.
For example, with the Sauvignon Blanc in barrels the goal is to put softness and roundness in the wine and avoid malolactic fermentation. With a red wine, winemakers want this to happen so many choose to add the bacteria in a controlled way.
But, white wine tastes have changed in the past years and balancing the fermentation has gotten a little tricky.
In the past, big buttery, oaky ‘California style’ Chardonnays were in vogue. Now many consumers are leaning toward a cleaner style of wine with more emphasis on fruit and away from the butter. The pendulum seems to be swinging back to a leaner style of wine.