Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is There Such a Thing As Wild Yeast Fermentation?

You have undoubtedly heard the words "wild," "natural," or "indigenous yeasts" over the last few years, as it has become quite to go to descriptor amongst some in the wine business. Essentially, it means the wine makes itself, there is no inoculation. So whatever yeast is already in the air (or on the clusters) starts the fermentation process. Many have argued that this way is the purest expression of the wine. Well, now we have some evidence that this idea of "wild" yeast may not even exist to its full extent. The fermentation may in fact start indigenously, but commercial yeasts eventually take over and dominate the fermentation, thereby eliminating the once "wild" yeasts.

In the August issue of Wine Business Monthly, the headline reads:  
Study Indicates Commercial Yeast Strains Take Over Fermentation - The yeast strain you think is fermenting your wine probably isn't doing the job- unless it is a dominant commercial strain.

The start of the story:

"That exotic yeast you used to ferment your wine? It probably didn't. That wild yeast fermentation you prefer? It probably isn't. So suggests three years of research at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada. "The winemaker assumes that what they inoculate with is what they get in their fermentations," said Dan Durall, a biology professor at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan in Kelowna, British Columbia, who has led the research since 2010."

 More here:

"His investigation indicates that likely is inaccurate: The yeast strain you think is fermenting your wine probably isn't doing the job-unless it is a dominant commercial strain. The study began in 2010 when graduate student Jessica N. Lange spent time at three Okanagan Valley wineries to study yeast during multiple stages of fermentation in Pinot Noir. Lange collected samples during cold soak then during early, mid and late stages of fermentation."

"What she found was startling: Regardless of which yeast started the fermentation-indigenous or otherwise-a dominant commercial strain took over during the process, essentially wiping out any other forms of yeast that might have been present, Durall said."

The full story can be read here (in PDF form): Full Yeast Story

Create an informed opinion. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Porchetta: Tuscan Style

Porchetta is an impressive and remarkably easy dish to pull off. You must first start to top notch ingredients (as with all the best Italian cooking). I recommend going to McCall's Meat & Fish in Los Feliz and ask for a pork shoulder, butterflied. And tell them what you are making. They will have some helpful hints.

In addition the pork shoulder, you will need a nice piece of slab bacon or pork belly. The idea is to marinate the meat with herbs, olive oil and garlic as long as overnight, or 8-10 hours at least, wrap together, tie off, and slow roast until delicious.

Season with fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, red pepper flakes, crushed fennel seeds, sea salt, ground black pepper, fennel fronds, plenty of crushed garlic and loads of good olive oil.

Once you are marinated, roll the pork belly up with the butterflied shoulder and tie it off. Here is a good video demonstrating the butcher tie: tying stuffed pork

Then we like to use a tin to roast in with some aromatics as a base: fennel, carrots, onions, etc.

Roast for about 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the porchetta and temp of oven. We roast on our gas grill outside at 300 degrees for 2 hours. This roast was about 5.5 lbs.
Fully roasted porchetta
The sliced view
Paired with a sublime '97 Brunello & '08 Chianti Classico
Try it for yourself!