A buttery flavor in wine is most often the result of:

A. Bâttonage

B. Extended contact with yeast lees

C. Malolactic fermentation

D. Aging in new oak


Buttery flavors in wine are the result of diacetyl, which is the organic compound that makes butter taste buttery. For its part, diacetyl is a by-product of malolactic fermentation, the process by which beneficial bacteria convert crisp malic acid in wine to softer-feeling lactic acid. Malolactic fermentation can happen naturally or be induced by the winemaker. It can also be prevented from happening (by the addition of sulphur dioxide). Malolactic fermentation is very common with Chardonnay, which in turn means that many Chardonnays have a buttery flavor. Red wine too goes through malolactic fermentation but other compounds in red wine (especially tannin) generally obscure any buttery flavor.

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