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Winemaking Terms - Starter Solution to Sur Lie Aging

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Starter Solution:


A solution of water, juice, sugar, and nutrients into which a culture of yeast is introduced and encouraged to multiply as quickly as possible before adding to a must. The purpose of the starter solution is to achieve a greater density of yeast than contained in the original culture sample so that the cultured yeast will dominate the fermentation process, literally smothering out any wild yeast that might be present. It is also used to restart a Stuck Fermentation. 


Still Wine:


A finished, non-sparkling wine. A finished wine containing no noticeable carbonation. 


Stuck Fermentation:


A fermentation that has started but then stops before converting all fermentable sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide or before reaching the toxicity level of the particular yeast strain(s) involved. A stuck fermentation is usually due to an imbalance in the ingredients or to temperature extremes unacceptable to the yeast.




A natural, crystalline disaccharide found in grapes, most fruit and many plants. This is the type of refined sugar obtained from sugar cane, sugar beets and other sources which, when added to a must or juice to make up for deficiencies in natural sugar, must be hydrolyzed (inverted) into Fructose and Sucrose by acids and enzymes in the yeast before it can be used as fuel for fermentation.




Technically, a salt or ester of sulfurous acid, but more commonly, sulfur dioxide (SO2). Sulfite is the most effective and widely used preservative in winemaking. It preserves by safeguarding musts and wines against premature oxidation and microscopic life forms that could otherwise spoil wine. It preserves a wine’s freshness, helps maintain its color, and is essential for aging wines beyond their first year without deterioriation. It also inhibits wild yeasts, thereby allowing cultured wine yeasts to dominate the fermentation. Sulfites may be "bound" or "free." Bound SO2 combines with aldehyde compounds, those most responsible for oxidation in wines. Free SO2 results from the dissipation of active SO2 and is the only SO2 that provides antiseptic and oxidative protection to wines. The most efficient wat to add free SO2 to a must, juice or wine is by adding dissolved potassium metabisulfite to it. The effectiveness of free SO2 is dependent on the pH of the media to which it is added.




A small, pale golden-green grape originating in Smyrna, Turkey. It is the most widely planted variety in California, where it goes by the name of Thompson Seedless. It is the common "white" or "golden" raisin sold in America.


Sur Lie Aging:


French for "on the lees", this is the process of leaving the lees in the wine for a few months to a year, accompanied by a regime of periodic stirring. Certain wines such as chardonnay or sauvignon blanc benefit from autolysis because they gain complexity during the process that enhances their structure and mouthfeel, give them extra body, and increase their aromatic complexity. Aging sur lie with lees stirring can result in a creamy, viscous mouthfeel.



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Source: Jack Keller



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