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Old 05-26-2013, 07:14 AM   #1
geek
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Is there a thread or sticky somewhere in here talking about MLF?

I haven't experimented this in my 4 years of wine making and I think all commercial reds go through this at the factory, yes/no?

There has to be a benefit to have a red wine go through MLF.

when to start?
what to check?
how long it may take?
what to use to get it started?
real good benefits?
should I not even consider this as a home wine make? too complicated or expensive?
do people here regularly have their reds go through this process?
Pros, cons??
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Old 05-26-2013, 05:37 PM   #2
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Varis,
To answer a few of your questions:
First and foremost, these seems to be a lot of apprehension about MLF, it really has a reputation for being very difficult, it really isn't, to keep this as simple as possible:
  • It is not too expensive nor is it too complicated for the home wine maker, if you can pitch yeast, you can put your wine through MLF.
  • I would use the best MLB that you can afford, there are some that are better than others.
  • The primary reason for using malolactic fermentation is to reduce acid in red wines and some white wines.
  • During Malolactic fermentation malic acid is converted into CO2 and lactic acid resulting in smoother, more mellow and full-bodied wines.
  • You can start MLF during the Alcoholic Fermentation:, at the end of the fermentation, or after the primary fermentation is finished.
  • I believe the biggest point that people stress about is how can you tell if MLF has started and how to tell if it is finished.
  • First, most times you will not see an active fermentation as aggressive as with an Alcoholic Fermentation:, I've put every red that I've made through MLF and most times you see small/tiny bubbles, it can take 3-4 weeks to complete, and the only way to be sure it is finished is by testing with a Chromatography test or other test kits.
There is a thread here, just do a search and I'm sure that you'll find it, but remember, don't over complicate it, it really is as simple as pitching yeast.
We can get a bit more in depth about this if you would like, I'm sure that others will answer your questions as well.
I hope that this helps.
Tom
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
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Great post Tom, thanks a lot.

Now, I want to do an experiment with these 2 pails of juice I just bought and that are going through primary, a Chilean Malbec and Chilean Cabernet Sav.

Is there any simple step-by-step on what to follow, when to pitch what I need to pitch (primary fermentation is over?) and what is a good yeast to pitch then?
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Old 05-26-2013, 08:08 PM   #4
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Geek,

I pitched my first malolactic bacteria this weekend. Between this site, and the info on morewinemaking.com, I was pretty comfortable doing so. You do need to invest in a chromatography test kit - about $60, and the malolactic bacteria is a little pricey. But juice buckets are cheap, so your cost per bottle remains low.

Bacchus seems to be a good, strong, malolactic culture. I pitched right after racking to secondary.


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Old 05-26-2013, 08:55 PM   #5
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Varis,
I'll have to agree with using Bacchus malolactic bacteria for a decent, cost effective MLB. If I am not mistaken, I believe it is the same MLB as LALVIN 31.
I personally use Lalvin VP 41, it supports red berry fruit and very low diacetyl production, and adds mouthfeel.

I usually pitch mine after fermentation is finished and I've transferred to a carboy. I stir up the lees (sediment) every few days, the malolactic bacteria will use it as a nutrient, or you can use Opti'malo MLB nutrient, you can find it super cheap from M&M grape Juice in small quantities.

The process is fairly simple, this is direct from the manufacturer website: ML should be inoculated at the end of primary fermentation. This helps avoid competition with the yeast that can lead to stuck fermentations.

I believe that Bacchus is added directly to the wine, no rehydration needed. Then just have patience, it'll take a few weeks before it is finished, I agree with purchasing a Chromatography Kit, they are expensive, but only by testing the wine, can you be sure that MLF has completed.
If you are in Naugatuck CT, you are an hr and 20 mins from me, You could send me a small sample of your wine, 5 or 10 ml and I could run the test for you, but obviously owning your own kit is the way to go.
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:12 PM   #6
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Thanks guys, found the PDF document at morewinemaking website.
It just happens that I HAVE that pdf in my hard drive...!!

This is one of the first documents I downloaded when I started the hobby but never went through it in detail....

Reading through it now.....I assume the bacteria can be bought at local HBS...
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:22 PM   #7
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But it should be noted that not every wine needs to be subjected to MLF.

Per Scott Labs, (P.27 or so for MLF, http://www.scottlab.com/pdf/ScottLabsHandbook2012.pdf)

WHAT ARE FAVORABLE/HARSH CONDITIONS FOR ML?

An optimum environment for malolactic bacteria includes a temperature between 20-25C (68-77F), alcohol below 13% (v/v), total SO 2 below 25 ppm, pH above 3.4, little or no oxygen, low levels of short and medium chained fatty acids, low levels of organic acids and low levels of polyphenols.

 
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:28 PM   #8
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BTW - talking about SO2 and PH levels....I don't have a kit to measure those values....sigh....
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:30 PM   #9
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You will be fine, I haven't had one MLF stall or not start at all.
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:53 PM   #10
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Tom, but I assume another kit to check SO/PH levels is a must have?

I don't have one of those kits either..!!
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