Got Rot?: Wine made from botrytis affected Riesling tastes much better than the bunches of grapes used in its production

As grapes ripen In the vineyard and clouds and fog roll in, those bunches are at a fork in the road. Like a choose your own adventure book, they have the potential to become the hero or the villain. If the moist conditions clear up and the grapes become dehydrated, noble rot is formed. Alternately, if the wetness persists, another kind of rot — the not so noble sounding grey rot —sets in and formerly beautiful bunches are ruined.

What makes one rot beneficial? So-called noble rot (aka Botrytis Cinerea) shrivels the berries. That loss of water means the grape’s other components, such as sugar and acidity, become more concentrated, creating the ingredients for a deliciously, decadent sweet wine.

Although noblely rotten grapes can be used to create different wines, we like to think of Riesling as the grape that raises the bar for botrytis. Because of its super power of high acidity, it can effectively balance the highly concentrated sugar contained in the shrivelled grapes.

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