Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesdays

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies is: Lees

No, I am not referring to those tight pair of worn blue jeans that one often sees a cute cowboy wearing ...

Lees refers to deposits of dead yeast cells, grape fragments (seeds, pulp, stems, skins) and other solids that naturally settle and separate from the wine during fermentation and aging. Eventually the sediment will be removed from the wine (or "racked" - a new vocab word for later). 

Sometimes the lees is left in contact with the wine in an attempt to develop more flavor, such as which is often practiced with Champagne and other sparkling wines - - or even Chardonnay. However, most red wines are immediately separated from the lees after fermentation.

When the lees is left in the barrel during aging, it is then referred to as "sur lie," which is French for "on the lees."

White wines will often benefit from resting on the lees, as they gain complexity during this process giving them extra body and aromatics. The end result is a creamy or more viscous mouth feel on the palate. 
Lees left in the tank after the removal of red wine

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