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What gives wine a ‘buttery’ taste?

What gives wine a ‘buttery’ taste?

23 October 2019 Katie McDonald

Ever drank wine and thought it tasted resoundingly similar to butter? 

Before you start imagining winemakers scooping dollops of freshly churned butter into barrels, we’ve turned to our inhouse expert, Omrah Winemaker Chris Murtha to explain. 

“There is actually a very specific compound called diacetyl that makes a wine taste buttery,” Chris says.  

Dia what…?

“Yep, Diacetyl helps to soften a wine and gives it a bit more richness. This is something you’ll taste typically in Chardonnay,” he says. 

As the scientists at The Australian Wine Research Institute put it, ‘diacetyl is formed through the metabolism of citric acid’. 
Still lost? 

Organic diacetyl, also referred to as ‘Malolactic Fermentation’, occurs when malic acid in wine turns into a ‘creamier’ lactic acid (the same type of acid in milk).  

So in layman’s terms; special kinds of bacteria work their magic on malic acid to give it the ‘ultimate makeover’ resulting in its transformation into lactic acid – aka a new ‘smooth’ identity. 

Basically, next time you’re sipping on a Chardy or a rich red, all you need to know is that it’s not the butter found in your local supermarket that gives your wine that taste and texture.