Botrytis can be a grape’s friend or enemy. Like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, this mold can take on two personas. The full latin name, botrytis cinerea, means “grapes like ashes” in Latin. This poetic name refers to the grey rot which can form in humid conditions and destroy the grapes. However, the same fungus can become “noble rot” if dry conditions follow wet conditions.
Noble rot is obviously the botrytis you want, because it can make grapes perfect for making dessert wines like Sauternes and Hungarian Tokay. The combination of dry weather and botrytis causes the grapes to dehydrate and shrivel up, which concentrates their sugars and flavor.
Use today’s Word of the Day: 5 Ways to Tell if a Wine is Sweet