Is there visual cues for Malolactic Fementation?

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v8rx7guy

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I am working on a 15 gallon batch of Regent wine and am attempting Malolactic fermentation for the first time. I chose Wyeast 4007 due to my pH (3.2) since it seemed to be a good bacteria for lower pH wine, I have now read that this bacteria is not as "fool proof" as I thought (some people say it's 50/50 for success), so maybe that was my first mistake. My batch is 3x 5gallons of wine in carboys under airlocks currently, the wine has been racked off the gross lees and I do not believe the sulfite levels to be high (do not have technology to measure this precisely), though I did a standard dosing of 1 campden tablet per gallon to the must and let it sit for 24hrs before adding the yeast. I was under the imression that most of the sulfites are gone by the time primary fermentation is over.

I added oak and the 4007 Malolactic bacteria to the first carboy 3 nights ago and I really have not seen any obvious signs of malolactic fermentation, it's indoors so temps range from 70-75F. I stirred the fine lees last night. The air lock is not burping at all, not even positive pressure showing really. There are some small bubbles on the oak chips, but I'm not sure if that's just leftover from primary fermentation, or if it's just a weak malo fermentation. My questions are:

1. Is it super obvious visually when malolactic fermentation is working? Should there be rigorous bubbling and resulting popping of the airlock? I know the proper way would be to monitor with testing, but $$$.
2. If in the worst case scenario, the bacteria died instantly and did not work at all, will the bacteria add bad flavors or smells to the wine? I am wondering if I should even try the other two batches with the bacteria or not if I'm just going to ruin those with bad tasting bacteria.
3. Did I do anything obviously wrong with my first attempt? I did not use any opti-malo or go-malo (not sure if this is the right name), because I was under the impression that the liquid Wyeast is just add and go?

Thanks
 
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I don't think that I would say the Wyeast 4007 is 50/50, from what I have heard (having never used it) probably more like 10% successful.

1. No it isn't always obvious visually that it is working. I have had successful with some bubbles and unsuccessful with about the same bubbles. It is never vigorous and I don't think I have ever seen my airlock move due to it.
2. The bacteria will add no bad flavors, do not add any potassium sorbate to this wine. It can cause a geranium smell that cannot be removed.
3. You didn't do anything obviously wrong. My first several mlf, I added no nutrients and they went fine. If it were mine, I would order one of the lower ph tolerant bacteria like enoform alpha, beta, vp41, ch16.
 

v8rx7guy

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Ouch... 10%! It had decent reviews... bummer to waste that money, but I'm learning. I will probably try one of the pH tolerant bacteria recommendations, any recommendations? I am leaning toward VP41.
 

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