Chilean Zin Juice Bucket Plan

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I’m wondering if adding kmeta to kill off existing yeast will hinder the malo.
I've not intentionally done MLF, but listening to the folks who have done it successfully -- don't add the K-meta.

When trying new things, take baby steps. Don't try to cram all new ideas into 1 batch. I'm not recommending what to do or not do, just making a general recommendation.

I’ve read in several forums to not do malo on kits.
Kits from reputable vendors are well balanced -- MLF messes with that. I recall a report from at least one person who did MLF on a kit and was not happy with the results.

Keep in mind that MLF requires the wine contain natural malic acid -- non-natural malic acid isn't affected by MLB. If the wine doesn't have enough malic acid, nothing will happen, kind of like trying to light water on fire.
 

BMarNJ

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I’m wondering if adding kmeta to kill off existing yeast will hinder the malo. Maybe I’d have a higher chance of success by not adding the kmeta and instead using the yeast that comes in the juice. I already bought the Wyeast 4007 and don’t have plans for another juice bucket until the fall. I want to use it before it goes bad, and I’ve read in several forums to not do malo on kits.

This is my first wine from juice and it feels a bit like taking the training wheels off. The options are bewildering and my head is spinning with all the suggestions. Like so many things, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.
I’m no expert, but I would think you have 2 choices, either use the original yeast and skip the kmeta and coinnoculate with the malo, or kill the first yeast, add your yeast, let fermentation complete (which will use up the active SO2) and then do your MLF after.
 

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I’m no expert, but I would think you have 2 choices, either use the original yeast and skip the kmeta and coinnoculate with the malo, or kill the first yeast, add your yeast, let fermentation complete (which will use up the active SO2) and then do your MLF after.
This is why I was wondering how long kmeta is effective in the wine. I would guess that since it protects the wine for months, the levels would be too high for the malo culture to take off if added just days or a week after. I've seen some videos on measuring the SO2, but it was like a laboratory experiment. I'm not ready for that yet. I'm pretty sure I'm going to use the yeast it comes with. Maybe I can find out what it is.
 

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What's the effective "life" of kmeta? Also, when looking into malo nutrient per your suggestion, I read that Zin is difficult to do malo on. Could you explain your method? Maybe I should choose between using the yeast they add or doing malo. I have a little time to think about it. I'll ask if they have any information on the yeast when I pick it up next Friday. Is it ever listed on the bucket?

They tell me it is and they have a video explaining that it is. Maybe another member has information on Chilean buckets from Midwest Supplies in Minneapolis?

A bit late to this party, but I have picked up (and fermented) several Chilean juice buckets from Midwest in Minneapolis (St. Louis Park) - they have always been preinoculated with yeast. Almost undoubtedly EC1118. I did the Syrah and the Zin last year with MLF (and extra skins etc - would have to check my logs for full notes). The Zin definitely had a harder time completing MLF. Honestly, neither of them are much to brag about at this time although I have had good success with previous buckets from there.
 
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I would guess that since it protects the wine for months, the levels would be too high for the malo culture to take off if added just days or a week after.
Free SO2 gets used up as it binds to contaminants, rendering them harmless. There's no way to predict how quickly the SO2 will be used up, although factors such as heavy O2 exposure will do so. However, I'd not risk that to facilitate MLF.

You can do SO2 testing to see what you have, then decide on MLF or not. Also, research the SO2 tolerance of the variety of MLB that you choose.
 

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A bit late to this party, but I have picked up (and fermented) several Chilean juice buckets from Midwest in Minneapolis (St. Louis Park) - they have always been preinoculated with yeast. Almost undoubtedly EC1118. I did the Syrah and the Zin last year with MLF (and extra skins etc - would have to check my logs for full notes). The Zin definitely had a harder time completing MLF. Honestly, neither of them are much to brag about at this time although I have had good success with previous buckets from there.
Good to know, what did you use for MLF?
However, I'd not risk that to facilitate MLF
Sorry, not risk adding SO2, or not adding it? I don't have any plans to test for anything, but I've read that the tolerance is 15ppm. Not sure if that's high or low tolerance, or what the juice will have, or if any was already added. So many questions, but it will be what it will be. Given that I'll be bulk aging this one for several months, maybe it will eventually work or maybe not.

Speaking of bulk aging, should I be worried about fining or degassing? I've read in some of your posts that you don't use finings, but instead use time in bulk and racking in leu of fining. I believe the same is true of degassing to a large part. Is that correct?
 
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Sorry, not risk adding SO2, or not adding it?
Text is a tough medium for communication!

I would not add K-meta. IIRC, NorCal's experiment indicated that adding 1/4 tsp K-meta to 5 US gallons at each racking produced a final free SO2 of roughly 30 ppm. If K-meta was not added to your must, your free SO2 should be good. If K-meta was added, you can hope for it to be low enough after fermentation that the MLB will survive it. In your place, I'd wait a few weeks then inoculate with MLB, and what will be, will be.

MLF is a topic with a lot of nuances, and while there a lot of science behind it, it's also a matter of art. IMO your attitude "So many questions, but it will be what it will be" is probably the one that will serve you best in this case.
 
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Speaking of bulk aging, should I be worried about fining or degassing? I've read in some of your posts that you don't use finings, but instead use time in bulk and racking in leu of fining. I believe the same is true of degassing to a large part. Is that correct?
I'll share a secret regarding winemaking: There is no "one size fits all" method of winemaking. Different wines may require different actions, and I'm continuously looking at options.

AFAIK, degassing was introduced, or at least made popular, by kit vendors so that wine will clear quickly and can be bottled in 4 to 8 weeks. Excess CO2 holds sediment in suspension, so eliminating it is good.

While there's a common perception that this is done to sell more kits, I hold a contrary opinion that it's designed to sell that first kit. How many people will buy a kit if the package says they have to wait a year to drink it??? When the box says the wine can be bottled in 4 to 8 weeks, it sells that first kit. I don't have a problem with this as it's business -- the kit vendors exist, like all companies, to make a profit. As long as they are not being deceptive (and they are not, wine can be safely bottled in 4 to 8 weeks), I'm cool with it.

Ok, so much for philosophy. I started degassing all wines to clear the wine faster. I can clear the sediment and get to bulk aging sooner. While it's not necessary, degassing is a useful technique.

I have studied sur lie and battonage, and am very comfortable with wine aging on fine lees. I quickly eliminate heavy lees, then may not rack for a year. This avoids introducing O2 unnecessarily and limits the amount of wine wasted during racking.

Fining agents are a pro-and-con situation. Each has pluses and minuses, which differ by wine type.

I tend to fine kit and fruit wines, and often whites. Reds? It varies, but for the ones I bulk age 9+ months it's not as necessary. I wish I could provide better guidance, but I decide on a situation by situation basis. If you have a specific question I can tell what I would do, but there's no overall answer I can give.
 
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As info: I ordered 6 gal of Chilean Malbec and 6 gal of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Both buckets came in without any appellation, lab results, or any information. I did email the company that eventually sold to my LHBS and got a response on the TA/Brix/and PH. The numbers matched mine, pretty close on both batches.
I pretty much copied my plan for both buckets: added @2 lbs of sugar to both batches to bring them to 1.102 SG and added some pectin (as I had some extra FWK grape skins from the freezer), and 2.5 oz of American Oak chips each . I added a yeast starter and also yeast nutrients to yeast and the musts. I added Malolactic Culture ( White Labs #675) when the SG hit 1.100 on both batches.

The Malbec (with Lalvin 4x4 yeast) did great. Fermented as one would expect. and is now sitting in secondary.

The Cab Sav was a bit different. I used RC-212 yeast, but everything else was pretty standard to the Malbec. I noticed the ferment was much slower than the Malbec. After 5 days I removed the grape skins and racked to a secondary fermenter. My airlock didn't show the yeast were expelling CO2 like I thought it would after 8 days and the temperature never made it above 80 throughout the ferm...even with heat added in the room (74 degrees F). The must stayed in the 76 deg range. After 12 days the SG was 1.000 and no activity was spotted from the airlock (stuck fermentation? or really slow) so I added more yeast nutrient to the must, stirred well and boosted the heat and added a wrap (76deg F). This pushed the ferment through to where we are today, .995 and 16 days later.

My plan now is to rack both batches to carboys and store in a 65deg environment to complete MaloLactic fermentation for another month. Then degass, then add Kmeta.

**After reading this thread, I'm now curious if I should hold the carboys in a warmer environment (70-72 deg) throughout Malo? Or continue on in the lower temperature storage?

The smell and taste of each seems good, with nothing really out of the ordinary.
 

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I just took an SG reading of the Zinfandel juice I picked up today, and I’m a little disappointed. It comes in at 1.084, which is only around 11% potential abv. I would have expected at least between 13-14% potential, being a zin. Should I chapitalize? Is that typical of juice buckets? I have an allgrape pack to add yet. Will that make much difference?
 

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I just took an SG reading of the Zinfandel juice I picked up today, and I’m a little disappointed. It comes in at 1.084, which is only around 11% potential abv. I would have expected at least between 13-14% potential, being a zin. Should I chapitalize? Is that typical of juice buckets? I have an allgrape pack to add yet. Will that make much difference?
My California Zin bucket was just slightly higher last fall and I added sugar to bring it up. I usually add grapes to my buckets (36lbs/bucket), but I want the juice in the right place to start.
 

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If yeast has been added to the pail, how do you know that the initial gravity is 1.084? Just be careful, maybe some of the sugar has already fermented out.
Good point. While it was far too cold to be fermenting when I picked it up, I don’t have a way of knowing how it was handled before. Then again, I didn’t see, smell, or taste any evidence of previous fermentation. I think I’ll proceed as if it hasn’t started fermenting, but not bump up the sugar too high, just in case.
 
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Good point. While it was far too cold to be fermenting when I picked it up, I don’t have a way of knowing how it was handled before. Then again, I didn’t see, smell, or taste any evidence of previous fermentation. I think I’ll proceed as if it hasn’t started fermenting, but not bump up the sugar too high, just in case.

Every Juice Bucket I have ever picked up (that hadn't started fermenting already) was at 1.090. If you assume that was the starting SG, it had only produced about 0.8ABV, I doubt you would taste anything but the sugar.
 
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Should I chapitalize?
I'm in agreement with everyone else. Since you didn't pitch your yeast, and you feel it is too low. Add a pound or 2. I picked up 2 Chilean juice buckets a couple of weeks ago (Cab Sauv and Malbec), both buckets had lower final ABV estimates than what I was wanting, so I boosted them up. I went to 1.102 on SG with 2 lbs of granulated sugar added.
 

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I had an issue today. I finally got around to chapitalizing, 2 days into the ferment. I added 2 pounds of sugar, per the chapitalization calculator, to bring it up to 13.5% potential abv. The problem is that when I added it, it foamed up pretty violently. Fortunately, the skins pack I added brought the level up to around 7 gallons, so I’m left with just a bit over 6 gallons in the pail now. A little more after I put the skins back in. Lesson learned after cleanup: Chapitalize before ferment.
The question I have now is, should I add nutrient and/or energizer? I’ve never added sugar before, I’ve only ever followed recipes or done kits before, so I’m in new waters here.
 
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Lesson learned after cleanup: Chapitalize before ferment.
A better lesson is "add the sugar gradually". What happened is the dissolved CO2 latched on to the sugar particles and was emitted. Given the amount of solids in the wine, it "boiled over". This can happen with any solid addition, including nutrients. Gently stir first to release some excess CO2, and add the solids in a thin stream, and stop if it looks like it will boil over. Gently stirring as you add helps, plus is ensures the sugar dissolves.

For normal wines, I prefer to chaptalize up front. I have a single OG and don't have to mess with math to determine the ABV.
 

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