July 7, 2014

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Biological Reduction of Total Acidity

A balanced wine should be the goal of every winemaker – not only in the wine’s chemistry, but in the wine’s aroma and flavor. While the latter is often up to interpretation (heavy-handed oak treatment is an example), much is known about how taste components such as acidity, sweetness, and alcohol can work together in harmony or discord on the palate. Cold-hardy wine grapes developed at the University of Minnesota are rarely harvested with a total acidity (TA) under 10 g/L. It is not uncommon to see total acidity at harvest of 15-18 g/L in Frontenac, and even the newest cultivar, Marquette, sees total acidity ranging from 9-13 g/L.

In dry wine production, wine balance can be a trickier dance, as sweetness can help soften both acidity and alcohol. In technical terms, any wine with less than 5 g/L (0.5%) of residual sugar may be considered dry if the yeast population dies. The perception of dryness, on the other hand, can vary based on other aspects of the wine, such as acidity, dry extract, and aroma. A wine that is dry and acidic can taste harsh, astringent, and un-balanced to the consumer. Because tannin and alcohol can accentuate the sensation of acidity, winemakers using cold-hardy cultivars to make dry red wines must consider ways to mitigate this high acidity.

There are three general methods one can use to lower high acidity dry wine production: physical methods (blending and amelioration), chemical methods (bicarbonates), and biological methods (yeast and bacteria). For the acid levels seen in Northern vineyards, the best approach is most likely a combination of all three of these methods. The Northern Grapes Project will be exploring these methods individually, so that winemakers can have a host of different tools in their arsenal for reducing acidity in their own wines.

Biological Deacidification. The most important thing to remember about biological deacidification is that it only affects the malic acid portion of your wine’s total acidity. The most common method of biological deacidification is through malolactic fermentation. Although not a true fermentation, bacteria that exist naturally in the environment have the ability to consume the malic acid in grapes and convert it to lactic acid, softening the wine’s acidity. Nearly all red wines around the world undergo MLF and some white wines also benefit from acid reduction of this practice. Traditionally, red wines are stored in barrels following alcoholic fermentation, where MLF will naturally occur as long as the wines are left unprotected from microbial spoilage. Wineries choosing to allow “spontaneous” MLF to occur often have to wait months for the malic acid to be consumed. The risks involved with leaving the wine un-sulfured, as well as the development of reliable bacteria starter cultures have pushed many wineries to inoculate their wines rather than waiting for MLF to occur naturally.

Yeast also have the capability to consume malic acid (malate), though they convert it to ethanol rather than lactic acid. It has long been known that certain yeasts (Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Hanseniaspora occidentalis, Issatchenkia orientalis) are especially efficient at consuming malic acid. However, because these yeasts have poor alcohol tolerance, they must always be used in conjunction with Saccharomyces yeasts in order to complete fermentation in wine. While  S. pombe has been available commercially for some time for use in wine production, the development of other non-Saccharomyces yeasts for commercial use is a hot topic at the moment. We will likely see more of these yeasts available in an active-dry form to use in sequential yeast inoculations for wine.

Until then, we decided to look at some of the commercially available Saccharomyces yeast strains that have a reported ability to reduce malic acid, and trialed them with cold-hardy grape cultivars. After consulting with several enological product suppliers, we came up with a list of several different yeast strains: Lalvin C (Lallemand), Exotics (Anchor), Lalvin ICV OPALE (Lallemand), and Uvaferm VRB (Lallemand). We also trialed a non-Saccharomyces yeast that Lallemand has made available in an active dry form for sequential inoculations: Torulaspora Delbrueckii (sold commercially as Level 2TD). Although its malate-consumption hadn’t been verified, a technician at Lallemand had recommended it because they had observed some softening of the acidity in wines that had been fermented using it.

Yeast deacidification trial. We did a small trial with these yeasts in which we used juice from the 2012 vintage that had been previously frozen. For each MN cultivar, we trialed three different yeast strains, and used a fourth yeast strain as a control. One lot of juice was divided into 20 micro-vinification lots of 500 mL each. Thus each yeast was replicated in 5 fermentation lots. For this initial trial, we were concerned with monitoring mainly the chemistry change using each yeast. For white wines we used Lalvin DV10 as control, and for red wines we used ICV GRE as a control yeast. Both are considered reliable fermenters with no reported malate degradation.  The unusually hot weather in 2012 caused initial brix levels to be extremely elevated, so initial malate numbers reflect juice that had been diluted to bring the sugar concentration down to 25° Brix.

NanoVinification

Results: With Frontenac Gris, we started with an ameliorated juice that had a total acidity of 9.92 g/L, pH of 3.00, and 5.1 g/L of malic acid. Although all the added yeast strains showed some reduction from the initial malate levels in the juice, the acid reduction seen in the Lalvin C, Exotics, and the combination of Torulaspora delbrueckii with Exotics all were significantly lower than the control yeast (p <0.05). We used Lalvin C in a larger lot following this trial in order to evaluate the sensory impacts of this yeast. It’s worth noting that in all 10 micro-vinifications in which Exotics was used, the wines exhibited some stuck fermentations. Thus, some care may be needed when using this yeast in order to complete fermentation in low pH juices.

 

microvin FGRIS

 The La Crescent juice that we divided up for the micro-vinification trials was ameliorated to 25 Brix, which left the starting malate levels at 5.3 g/L. The decrease in malic acid during fermentation was less pronounced than what we saw with the Frontenac Gris fermentation. In fact, only the vinification lots in which Exotics was used showed a statistically significant drop in malic acid (p< 0.05). ICV Opale is advertised to lower malate levels by 0.1 to 0.4 g/L. Our trials show that it exceeded this level in high malate juice, however, this decrease was not significantly lower than our control yeast which has no reported malate reducing properties.

 

microvin LC

Our Frontenac was pressed and fermented as a rosé. Again, it was necessary to ameliorate to reduce the high sugars that we achieved in 2012, however, the initial malate concentration of the juice was still relatively high at 4.6 g/L. All yeast used for this trial caused a decrease in the final malic acid concentration of the wine. All observed differences in malate reduction were statistically significant (p<0.05), except for the two lots that were fermented with Lalvin C. There is no statistical difference between the observed malate reduction when using Lalvin C in conjunction with T. delbrueckii yeast. This (along with the other results seen when using T. delbrueckii) suggests that any impact on the perception of acidity due to this yeast is likely not related to malate degradation. All the Frontenac fermentations finished dry with no stuck or sluggish characters.

microvin frontenac

 Marquette was also pressed immediately and fermented as a rosé. The ameliorated juice had an initial malic acid concentration of 4.1 g/L. Exotics and VRB showed identical malate reduction capabilities, and even though the difference between these two yeasts and the control (ICV GRE) was only slight, the difference is statistically significant (p=0.046). Once again, Lalvin C proved to have the greatest potential for malate reduction, with a 1.10 g/L decrease in malic acid concentration from the juice.

microvin Marq

It is important to keep in mind that there are many different tools available to a winemaker to manage high acidity in their wines. The selection of yeasts that we looked at here are only a small example of what is available on the market. It is important to talk with technicians who supply your winery in order to get a better idea of what products might help with managing your acidity.

 

 

 

High Total Acidity AND high pH?! How to handle it…

One of the reasons that grapes have been used to make wine for thousands of years is that they are one of the few fruits in the world that contain large concentrations of tartaric acid. The strength of acids is measured by their ability to shed protons – or more specifically, hydrogen ions (H+). Without going too deep into a chemistry lecture (which I’m sure will lose most of you in a few sentences), when you measure the pH of your wine, you are measuring the concentration of these ions – that’s what the big ‘H’ in pH stands for. The tricky thing to remember is that while pH is a measurement of H+, the formula for its calculation causes the pH to be inversely proportional to the H+ concentration. Thus, as the H+ concentration increases, your pH decreases.

So what is the big deal about pH? Because tartaric acid is relatively strong, it works to keep a wine’s pH near 3.0, which in turn keeps the wine stable against microbes. This is one of the reasons why wine made from grapes has flourished around the world: it doesn’t spoil easily, and acts as an antiseptic. The combination of ethanol and the acidic environment are extremely inhospitable to most microbes. In an indigenous yeast fermentation, after the wine hits 5-6% alcohol, one yeast will dominate the fermentation: Saccharomyces cerevisiae or S. bayanus. After the sugar is depleted, there isn’t much left in the wine to act as a food source for microbes that are capable of surviving in those harsh conditions. Lactic Acid bacteria, if present, will begin to consume the malic acid (transforming it to lactic acid), while Acetobacter species are capable of turning ethanol into acetic acid (vinegar). However, Acetobacter needs oxygen in order to do this, so as long as you keep your containers full, you don’t need to worry much about them.

This year, like in 2010, we saw problems with high pH in many of our wines, but we saw it especially in Marquette. The most likely explanation is that Marquette grown under certain conditions has an excess of potassium, which can drive up the pH. Malic acid concentration likely also plays a role in increasing the pH, since it is a weaker acid that in turn is converted to an even weaker acid (lactic acid) in red wine vinification. In any case, the high pH is worrisome and steps need to be taken to ensure that the wine remains stable.

Sulfur Dioxide Addition. While it is still possible to limit microbes with sulfur addition when the pH creeps up to 3.8, you need to use substantially more SO2 as your pH increases. Most of the sulfur you add to wine becomes bound to sugars and other compounds in your wine. The rest of the sulfur exists as “free” or unbound SO2. At a pH of 3.4, you should aim for 35 mg/L of free sulfur in your wine in order to be sure that it’s protecting your wine against microbial spoilage. However, at a pH of 3.8, you’d need nearly 90 mg/L of free sulfur to get the same protection. Considering that the legal limit for TOTAL sulfur in your wine cannot exceed 400 ppm, one can see how maintaining a high free SO2 rate can quickly make it possible to exceed that limit. Though it’s possible to keep your wine clean with a high pH, it isn’t easy. One should consider a pH greater than 3.8 the breaking point where acidification becomes necessary.

Wine Sensory. The pH has a huge effect on the color of red wine, as it affects the colored pigments. If you start to keep track of your wine color and corresponding pH, it becomes almost possible to predict your wine’s pH based on color alone. A high pH wine will lose the vibrant red tones, and become more of an eggplant purple color. Low pH wines will have a bright pink rim and vibrant red hue. Differences occur between grape cultivar, of course, but generally if you observe the rim of color at the edge of the wine when you tilt your glass, if it’s purple then the pH is high. High pH wines also have a tendency to be described as “flabby” or “flat,” however it is difficult to say whether or not that holds true when the wine has a corresponding high total acidity, like we often see in Marquette. In Riesling, wines with equal sugar/acid ratios can taste sweeter at a higher pH.

Cold Stabilization. Wines with a pH greater than 3.65 should not be cold stabilized. When wines are cold-stabilized, the goal is to precipitate potassium bitartrate crystals so that they don’t fall out of solution in the bottle. Above pH 3.65, this salt acts like an acid. So, by removing an acid from the solution, it causes your pH to increase. However, if the wine’s pH is LESS THAN 3.65, cold stabilization will help to LOWER your pH. Below this point, potassium bitartrate acts as a base, so removing from solution causes the solution to become more acidic. Pretty cool, huh?

What we were faced with this year. The Marquette grapes that were harvested this year arrived at the winery with a pH of 3.6, but also had a total acidity of almost 1.0%! Knowing that the pH would increase during skin maceration (potassium is extracted from the skins), and again during malolactic fermentation, I acidified the must at harvest with tartaric acid at a rate of 0.2%. This brought the pH below 3.5. During Malolactic fermentation, we saw the pH creep up again to 4.0, so we were forced to once more acidify the wine to make it stable.

So here’s where a decision needed to be made: how much tartaric acid should we add? The total acidity was around 0.65%, which is pretty good for a red wine. Adding too much tartaric acid would make the wine tart and unpalatable. If I was working in a commercial winery, these are the options I’d see:

1) Acidify with Tartaric Acid. Aim to get the pH to 3.8, and hope that the tartaric acid additions didn’t make the wine too tart, then avoid cold-stabilization. A rule of thumb to use when acidifying:  1.0 g/L of tartaric acid will generally lower the pH by 0.1 (this is a guideline, of course… to be accurate, always perform bench trials before making a large addition).

2) Acidify with Tartaric Acid. Aim to get the pH below 3.65 and KNOW the wine was going to be very tart, but then cold-stabilize. With this option, the cold-stabilization will further lower the pH another 0.1 to 0.2 points (depending on the potassium bitartrate concentration). Then, working at a pH of 3.4-3.5, we will have room to remove the tartaric acid using chemical deacidification methods. Chemical deacidification comes with the worry of losing some of the aromatics, so bench trials should be performed to determine the amount of additive works best for the individual wine.

3) Blend the wine with a lower pH wine (of course do bench trials to see if you like the blend). This of course is still an option if you choose option 1 or 2, especially if you find the wine is still too tart. Blending is one of the the real arts in winemaking.

4) Use an anion exchanger. However, while an ion exchanger is available on the commercial scale for wineries, the cost of the equipment isn’t practical unless your last name is Mondavi.

We went with option #2. Since we are an experimental winery, blending is not an option. If I went with the first option, the amount of tartaric acid needed to get the wine under a pH of 3.8 made the wine too tart.  The wines were acidified with 4 g/L of tartaric acid, which brought the pH down below 3.6 (and the TA above 1.0%), and they are now chilling  at 28°F. I’m hoping that cold stabilization removes 1-2 g/L of total acidity, and we can use potassium bicarbonate to remove an additional 1-2 g/L.  In the end, I’m hoping that nearly all of the added tartaric acid that was added to the wine can be removed, and we’ll be left with a wine that has a healthy pH between 3.6-3.8, with a palatable TA around 0.6%.

 Results Post Cold-Stabilization

To recap what we did to this high pH/high TA juice:

The Marquette fruit arrived at the winery and was separated into 6 different lots for trials.

The Total acidity at crush ranged from 8.5 – 9.1 g/L (0.8-0.9%), and the pH was around 3.6

At Crush, we added 2 g/L of Tartaric acid to bring down the pH during maceration and fermentation on the skins (I anticipated an increase in pH during fermentation).

Post malo-lactic fermentation, the pH had risen to 3.9-4.0 and the total acidity was averaging 6.5 g/L

We added 4 g/L of tartaric acid to bring the pH below 3.6, and cold-stabilized.

Final wine pH post cold-stabilization (avg of 6 lots) = 3.44

Final Total Acidity (avg of 6 lots) = 7.7 g/L

In the end, we had added a total of 6 g/L of tartaric acid. We see that most of that addition dropped out during fermentation and cold-stabilization. Our final wine has a low enough pH that we can do some tweaking to the acidity via carbonate additions if we find that necessary.

Northern Grapes Webinars!

 

 

Announcing….

The Northern Grapes Webinar Series

Presented live the 2nd Tuesday of each month

 

12:00 Noon Eastern (11:00 AM Central)
7:00 PM Eastern (6:00 PM Central)
Presentations will be recorded and archived for later review.

This series of monthly, one-hour webinars will cover special topics on growing, producing, and marketing wines made
from cold-hardy Northern winegrape cultivars. Webinars will feature speakers from the Northeast and Midwest sharing
their expertise and recent research on topics essential to cold-climate growers, winemakers, and winery owners.

The webinar format will allow you to view the program over the internet, ask questions, and interact with the speakers
from the privacy of your home desktop (Some bandwidth requirements apply). The series will begin with:

Managing Acidity in the Winery

January 10, 2012

12:00 Noon Eastern (11:00 AM Central)
7:00 PM Eastern (6:00 PM Central)

Cold-hardy cultivars such as Frontenac, St. Croix, La Crescent and Marquette are known for retaining acidity at ripeness, and managing it in the winery can present challenges for winemakers. Dr. Murli Dharmadhikari, Enologist and Director of the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at Iowa State University, and Dr. Anna Katharine Mansfield, assistant professor of enology at Cornell University, will discuss chemical and biological methods for reducing acidity in wines made from Northern cultivars. Dr Tim Martinson, director of the Northern Grapes Project, will provide an orientation to the webinar series, and a brief overview of the USDA-funded Northern Grapes Project.

To Register: Registration is free, but required. To attend, please fill out the online registration form posted at:

https://cornell.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5pEmyXKrP6YODn6

One week before the webinar, those who register will be sent the web address (URL) for the Adobe Connect session.

PLEASE NOTE: Only those who have completed the online registration form will receive connection details to
participate in the webinar.

For those who are unable to register or view the live feed, I will be hosting a group viewing at the Horticulture Research Center in Excelsior, MN. (the address is: 600 Arboretum Blvd.) Viewing will be at 11:00.

Next Webinar: February 14, 2012. Nuts and Bolts of Canopy Management, with Michael White (Iowa State) and Tim
Martinson (Cornell).

 
 
 
 
 
The Northern Grapes Project is funded by the USDA’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative
Program of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Project #2011-51181-30850

 

Passito, Straw Wine, Raisin Wine…

In Minnesota we are blessed with grapes that naturally are high in acid and high in sugar. To say this is a blessing may come as a surprise to those of you with lots of experience working with varieties like Frontenac, Frontenac gris, and La Crescent, you may think that the ‘harvest numbers’ we get are a bit of a curse. Especially in vintages like 2009, where it wasn’t uncommon to see total acidity rise to above 1.5% at harvest!

I get many questions emailed to me asking what can be done to lower the acidity or lower the potential alcohol after grapes were picked. Of course, a wine with 16-18% alcohol and more than 1.0% total acidity is really only a problem if you plan on fermenting the wine to dryness. Like many in the state have discovered, making an off-dry to sweet wine works really well when trying to balance a high-acid must. Frontenac (and Frontenac Gris, I might add), make an excellent fortified, port-style wine. It’s also been made very successfully into an off-dry rosé wine. While several wineries also do a good job making Frontenac into a dry red, it requires a lot more patience and experience, and often a lot of luck from mother nature.

This year she wasn’t so kind to us, either. The record-setting snowfall from last winter kept spring at bay well into May, meaning we had a very late bud-burst. Most vines weren’t flowering until mid-June, and véraison occurred at the beginning of August! That left precious little time for the grapes to ripen before much of the state was hit with an early frost in mid-September. Those who were lucky enough to not have their vineyards damaged were blessed with above-average temperatures in October. However, much of the fruit became overripe with the heat while growers were waiting for acids to drop. If we look back even further on the timeline of weather patterns, many of the vineyards bore heavy crop loads this year in response to 2010′s poor crop (due to the Mother’s Day frost – which destroyed flowers on many vines).

If you’ve completely given up on making wine in Minnesota after two crazy growing years, don’t panic quite yet. I’ve always been a fan of working with a particular grape’s chemistry rather than against it. Our grapes carry excellent chemistry for late-harvest or dessert wines in almost every growing season.

One particular technique I’m pretty excited about trying with our fruit is a passito type of wine. There are several wine regions around the world who use the technique of partially drying grapes prior to pressing them in order to concentrate the sugars. One of the most famous is Amarone, but several other types of wines exist in Italy that are a variation of this technique. Vin Santo, Recioto, and Torcolato are all wines that are essentially made from raisins. In France they make a Vin de Paille (literally Straw wine) in which the grapes are left to dry on straw mats until they are raisins. Even the Pédro Ximenez grape that is famous in Sherry will go through a process of drying before pressing and fermenting the grapes.

The method of drying the grapes varies from region to region. In Italy grapes intended for Vin Santo are hung from the rafters for several weeks or months. In Spain, the Pédro Ximenez grapes are laid out in the sun. In France and Germany, they are placed on trays often lined with straw (at least traditionally). Whatever drying method is employed, the goal is the same.

We had three vines of Frontenac Gris that were left over from a graduate student’s project that we decided would be perfect to use in this technique. Originally, the idea was to leave the grapes hanging on the vine until they turned to raisins, but mother nature hasn’t cooperated. So, today we picked the grapes, and utilized empty space in the greenhouse. An industrial-sized fan blowing across the tray of grapes will help to ensure that we minimize insect problems and mold during the drying process.

Let’s hope we end up with something luscious and tasty! I’ll keep you posted!

***UPDATE***

Balancing Sugar and Acid to make a more food-friendly Minnesota Wine

One of the biggest challenges we face in Minnesota is trying to make well-balanced wines from grapes that often have less-than-ideal chemistry at harvest. Deacidification is nearly always obligatory (either by chemical or biological methods), and stopping fermentation early to leave residual sugar (or back-sweetening wines) is often done in order to balance the high acids. Creating balanced wines from Minnesota fruit is not easy. The trend at the moment seems to be making wines on the sweet side. I would argue that it is easier to make a sweet wine than a balanced wine. Another advantage to creating sweet wines is that they are fairly easy to sell. This is something that is difficult for people who’ve been in the wine industry a long time to readily admit. The vast majority of people who drink wine in the US are new wine drinkers, who prefer sweet, fruity wines. That’s ok… I’ll admit that boxed white zinfandel is how I first became acquainted with wine. It’s a style that’s more approachable than the dry, acidic, or tannic wines. However, it’s the dry, acidic, and tannic wines that make the best food wines, and this is a style that I would like to see more of in the state of Minnesota. I’d also like to throw out this thought: just as many people grow-out of drinking Light Beer and Kool-Aid, many wine drinkers start to move toward drier and more bitter-tasting (tannic) wines over time. So, many of those “new” wine drinkers who prefer sweet wines now, may prefer a drier style down the road.
Why make food-friendly wines? While I understand that the majority of Americans don’t sit down to dinner with a glass of wine, I still think it is important that winemakers in the US strive to make wines that can be enjoyed at the dinner table. Here’s why: whether it’s sitting down to delivery pizza or a meal prepared with some love and effort, for most of us, eating is a time to relax. It’s the one time of day where we can be alone with our thoughts, or be joined by friends and family. When we have a good dining experience it tends to be a memorable experience – even if it’s simply pizza with friends. In fact, I’d argue that the reason pizza is a popular food comes down to the fact that it is usually something that is ordered for parties or events. Plenty of other foods are as easy and simple (and can even be delivered), yet pizza is often the first food you think to order when a group of friends get together. Pizza is associated with fun. Now, imagine if wine had the same association for the general American public? For many people, wine is associated with fancy dinners or special occasions (anniversaries, weddings, holidays…). What if wine were a part of everyday occasions?
According to the most recent Wine Market Council survey, 20% of the US adult population consumes 91% of the wine in our country. Of that ”core” group of wine drinkers, only 9% consume wine on a daily basis. Considering that about 3.4 trillion bottles of table wine (678 million gallons) were consumed in the US in 2010, imagine how just a 1-2% increase in daily consumption would affect total wine sales in the US?  Or, imagine if some of the marginal wine drinkers (14% of the US adult population), started drinking wine on a regular basis?

For many people, the idea of pairing food with wine is daunting. They think they need special training, or that they aren’t that sophisticated. The fact is, most people already have had experience with good food and beverage pairings their whole lives. It doesn’t take a sophisticated palate to experience the pleasure of warm cookies with a glass of cold milk, or perhaps the satisfaction of salty pretzels and beer. We can imagine that something tart and acidic like lemonade would taste awful with cookies, or that something syrupy sweet just wouldn’t be right alongside a juicy steak. If wine is thought of as more a condiment or seasoning, then it makes wine and food pairing less daunting. Imagine squeezing a lemon over fried fish. Now think of drinking a nice dry, acidic white wine with that same piece of fish. See, easy!

When the titratable acidity in your wine is high enough where fermenting it dry would make it taste more like biting into a lemon than drinking Chablis, it makes sense to leave some sugar in the wine to make it less tart. It has been known for quite some time that a high-acid variety like Riesling can retain some residual sugar and still taste dry. The International Riesling Foundation (IRF) has done great work determining what ratio of sugar to acid is needed in order to have a wine that tastes dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet, etc. This could be a good guideline to follow with some of our high-acid varieties. So, if you have a wine with a pH of 3.1-3.2, and a TA of 10 g/L, according to their guidelines (see chart below), the wine would taste dry as long has you had less than 10.0 g/L of residual sugar (1.0%). However, as this chart was made with riesling in mind, I can’t say whether it will work perfectly with our varieties. A riesling with a TA > 10 g/L would be considered high in acid, while we are lucky to see La Crescent or Frontenac lower than 12 g/L. **

That’s not to say that sweet wines don’t pair well will food. It’s just that it can be more difficult to find a wine with the right kind of sweetness to balance-out the meal. For example, if you’re serving something savory (like pork), that has a sweet element (baked apples), a wine that has the same level of sweetness as the apples could be a good compliment (say, an off-dry gewurztraminer?). If, however, you pair something that is much sweeter, the balance is thrown off. You have the wine competing with the food rather than complimenting it. Slightly sweet wines can also help tame the heat in spicy foods (like Thai or Indian dishes), but go too sweet and the wine will take center stage. However, when serving a sweet wine with dessert, you want the wine to be as sweet or even sweeter than the dessert. Sweet wines can also be a good contrast to salty foods like blue cheese (however they don’t always work well with hard cheeses). The best way to learn what works with a particular wine is to try a food and wine together.

There are plenty of people who enjoy drinking Minnesota wines, yet even with our wonderful local food movement, many restaurants serving locally-grown food have yet to serve that wine made with locally-grown grapes. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will be hosting a wine and food pairing event in September this year, with local chefs choosing their favorite food-friendly wines to pair with a dish of their own creation. Wineries are asked to submit their best food-friendly local wines to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Learning Center by June 6th to be vetted by local chefs. I encourage local wineries to participate, as I believe this is the next logical step for Minnesota wine – to be seen at the Minnesota dinner table.

**Remember that this is a taste profile, and a wine that retains more than a few g/L of sugar is technically not considered “dry.” This is an important distinction to make, as a wine that is not technically dry still risks refermentation. Red wines that you intend to put through malolactic fermentation should be technically dry. Lactic acid bacteria will metabolize remaining sugar into acetic acid – resulting in a wine with a vinegar taste.)