Has my MLF started?

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Hey I was wondering if MLF always creates visible bubbles. After AF was complete, I threw in CH16 directly into the wine, waited a few days, and nothing. Then about 5 days after the first inoculation, I started the CH16 in Acti ML (wasn’t necessarily enough for the full amount of MLB, but some is better than none) and added Opti Malo, and still nothing after a day. SG is 0.998, pH is about 3.6 (Tested via a crappy meter and test strips), and only SO2 added was 50ppm K meta (1/4 tsp per 6 gallons of must) pre AF. I tried stirring a few times. I just don’t want this sitting too long without sulfites if nothing is happening.

I should note: when my MLB arrived, I left it at room temp (unopened) for like 2-3 weeks prior to use. It’s freeze dried, so I didn’t think it needs to be stored in a freezer. Am I wrong? Maybe the culture went bad.
 
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The only reliable, sure- fire way to know if mlf has started is to check the amount of malic acid present. I have had successful mlfs where I never saw a bubble and unsuccessful ones where I thought I saw a huge amount of bubbles. I use the malic acid test strips as a very gross quick check of is something happening.
 
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I have a similar situation and it's been 6 days since I added it, I think I will just add the sulfites to be on the safe side, I dont have the chromatography test kit to be certain.
The problem is you may be aborting a perfectly good MLF. I would at least wait a month before sulfiting to give it some time if in fact the MLF is progressing. Even if it’s not progressing, there’s likely low chance of anything happening anyway. But what do I know haha
 
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I have a similar situation and it's been 6 days since I added it, I think I will just add the sulfites to be on the safe side, I dont have the chromatography test kit to be certain.

I agree with the let it go, but I would say three or four months. Only open it once or so a week, give it a gentle stir, close it back up. Look to wineries in the old country that don't add any sulfites for the first winter, so that's from Sept. until about May. You are fine. Let it go, don't worry.

As a side note, I don't have a chromotography kit at all. I just use the malic acid test strips, when they show no malic acid, you are done. It doesn't get any simpler than that.
 

Mario Dinis

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I have a similar situation and it's been 6 days since I added it, I think I will just add the sulfites to be on the safe side, I dont have the chromatography test kit to be certain.
As @RottenGrapeJuice said, just wait at least a month and in the meantime get a chromatography test kit. My Chilean Syrah failed MLF and I used VP41. That was my first MLF fail and I waited at least a month and a half.
 
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I was able to capture this photo. When I look super carefully with a flashlight, I see some shimmering inside the carboy (should be able to see that in the photo right next to flashlight), which I believe are actually tiny bubbles that are slowly rising to the surface. I see some very slow airlock activity, like one bubble per hour or two, so I believe we are in action. No bubbles gathering at surface though.
 

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Nebbiolo020

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I was able to capture this photo. When I look super carefully with a flashlight, I see some shimmering inside the carboy (should be able to see that in the photo right next to flashlight), which I believe are actually tiny bubbles that are slowly rising to the surface. I see some very slow airlock activity, like one bubble per hour or two, so I believe we are in action. No bubbles gathering at surface though.
Malolactic fermentation usually is little tiny fast moving bubbles if you can even see it taking place at all, sometimes you won’t see it but it is taking place.
 

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I'd also wait. I take a light (if in a carboy) and see if tiny little bubbles coming up into the neck.
Thank you guys for the reassurance I will hold off on sulfites, I'm feeling overprotective of this batch of Petite pearl it should be a good one. With those test strips can you detect if the malic acid is slowly being converted or is it all or nothing?
 
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Thank you guys for the reassurance I will hold off on sulfites, I'm feeling overprotective of this batch of Petite pearl it should be a good one. With those test strips can you detect if the malic acid is slowly being converted or is it all or nothing?

With the test strips, the color they are give an indication of how much malic acid there is. So I take one early on and then compare it later on to see if it is showing less. I don't try to say I have x amount of malic acid, just a change in the range. I have never seen any movement in my airlock that I can attribute to the mlf conversion. The CO2 given off is nothing like during alcohol fermentation.
 

Mario Dinis

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The only reliable, sure- fire way to know if mlf has started is to check the amount of malic acid present. I have had successful mlfs where I never saw a bubble and unsuccessful ones where I thought I saw a huge amount of bubbles. I use the malic acid test strips as a very gross quick check of is something happening.
I started mine on October 1st and on the 29th my chromatography test shows it about half way. I've just ordered one of those malic acid stip tests that you refer to. I want to see how it works.
 

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I was always under the impression that you hold off adding K meta if you are going to do mlf. Am I wrong?
 
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I was always under the impression that you hold off adding K meta if you are going to do mlf. Am I wrong?

You can add the initial kmeta amount at the crush, but then don't add more until after mlf has completed. Malolactic Bacteria don't do well in the presence of so2 and it is total SO2 not just free so2.
 

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