Kit Wine Experiment - Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) Part 1

Discussion in 'Kit Winemaking' started by James Ruiz, Nov 7, 2019.

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  1. Nov 7, 2019 #1

    James Ruiz

    James Ruiz

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    It seems the general consensus is that kit wine and MLF do not go well together. Either producing harsh aromas or affecting the acid balance and leaving the wine tasting terribly (flabby).

    I did a lot of googling and online searching to find out whether anyone has ever successfully done MLF on a kit wine and I failed to find anything. So naturally, this is the perfect chance to have some fun and maybe settle the debate once and for all.


    The experiment:

    • The kit I plan on using is a 6 gal. Syrah kit from Wine Expert (or equivalent) not the highest quality stuff but maybe middle of the road.

    • I'll take the entire 6 gal. through primary fermentation per the instructions and then split it in half by racking into 2 - 3 gal. carboys. One carboy will be the control wine, the remaining steps will be completed per the kit instructions. The other carboy will be the MLF wine.

    • I'll have all the necessary testing supplies on hand to check acidity, SO2, etc. and adjust as needed.

    • Both wines will undergo the same testing so that results can be compared.
    I'll be updating periodically with photos, test results, general notes.


    Now, before I start, does anyone have any suggestions or see anything I can improve? Is syrah a good varietal to use or is there another that would work better? For all you kit experts, which brand would you suggest?
     
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  2. Nov 7, 2019 #2

    Johnd

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    Don't think it really matters what kit you use, just make sure that you DO NOT USE the potassium sorbate, it will absolutely ruin your wine.

    I did a WE Eclipse kit and fermented it with the skins from a batch of grape wine that had undergone co-inoculation, effectively MLF'ing the kit. I tested it along with my grape wines and the malic acid dot didn't ever disappear. It's been said here before that MLB will convert natural malic acid to lactic acid, but will not do so to the "man-made" malic acid that is used to balance the wine. To me, that means that only the natural malic acid in the kit will be converted, leaving the malic acid added by the kit manufacturer. The wine I did came out just fine, didn't notice any positive or ill effects...........but I didn't have a control sample to taste test against.
     
  3. Nov 7, 2019 #3

    mainshipfred

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    Do keep us posted, do what you will with the control but also leave the sulfite out of the one with the MLB. What bacteria are you planning on using?
     
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  4. Nov 7, 2019 #4

    James Ruiz

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    I haven't gotten that far yet. The only one that I've looked at so far is White Labs WLP675.
     
  5. Nov 7, 2019 #5

    mainshipfred

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    That's probably not the best choice. understanding it's inexpensive I'm not aware of anyone that had any luck with it, myself included.
     
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  6. Nov 7, 2019 #6

    James Ruiz

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    Is there one that you recommend?
     
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  7. Nov 7, 2019 #7

    mainshipfred

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    Any one that's freeze dried. I know they are way more expensive though. especially for 3 gallons worth.
     
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  8. Nov 7, 2019 #8

    sour_grapes

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    I am pleased to see you do this experiment! Keep us posted.
     
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  9. Nov 7, 2019 #9

    Ajmassa

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    Knowing @Johnd ‘s previous experience with this is telling. Even if the natural malic converted there was still enough added malic in there to not register on the chroma test. I think your gonna need to give this the best possible Environment to work.
    Separate ferments would be top of my list. Mix the kit as directed. Then split in half before the yeast and adding a workhorse malo a day later (CH16-VP41). As well as the activator and nutrient. Also, Using the test strips will tell you if the content is different. You might have 300mg/L on one but 1,500mg/L in the other but identical chroma results.
     
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  10. Nov 8, 2019 #10

    Bts

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    or if MLF really does wreck kits, the manufacturer could always just add a little lysozyme to their juice and problem solved. Seems like cheap insurance against unhappy customers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  11. Nov 8, 2019 #11

    James Ruiz

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    Thanks for the input. So you recommend starting MLF during primary?

    I have concerns. Won't the LAB be competing with the yeast for nutrients and possibly result in a stuck ferment?

    Also, let's say the kit manufacturer used a sorbate to preserve the concentrate before packaging, I'm afraid that inoculating so soon would result in the dreaded geranium odor. I've heard that the sorbate won't survive the primary fermentation which is why I planned on inoculating afterward
     
  12. Nov 8, 2019 #12

    Johnd

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    When I did my little experiment, the skins I fermented with were laden with MLB from the prior grape batch, effectively a co-inoculation with a functioning colony, with no such ill effects. Many folks on this site have been co-inoculating MLB with yeast for quite some time with great success, the provision of proper nutrients for both the yeast and MLB should be part of your plan.

    I haven't ever heard that kit makers put K sorbate into their concentrate, it's typically an additive that is used much later in the process. You could always contact the manufacturer and ask them if you are concerned.
     
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  13. Nov 8, 2019 #13

    Bts

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    I've never heard of a kit that had sorbate pre-mixed with the juice. My understanding is that sorbate will inhibit yeast reproduction at the cost of producing off flavors after a year or two. That's a reasonable tradeoff for a sweetened white but not for a kit that could spend a year on a shelf before even being bought. Concentrated juice is pasteurized, and even if it got contaminated, it contains very high levels of sugar and acid that are inhibitory or fatal to yeast and practically everything else, so it shouldn't need any preservatives.

    As far as MLF out competing yeast for nutrients, I think that's unlikely. Yeast can blow through 20+ brix in 3 days, while a 3 week MLF if a triumph. If anything I had assumed the recommendation do MLF after fermentation was to protect the delicate MLF bacteria from the rigors of active fermentation and early sulfite additions(not that this appears to be a valid concern with "good" MLF strains given all the people who co-inoculate with good success)
     
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  14. Nov 8, 2019 #14

    Ajmassa

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    Yea. Your concern here is one of the main reasons co-inocculation was avoided for so long. But reality is that the low abv environment does wonders for the ML. And use standard nutrient protocol for the the ML (1 initial nutrient shot) and the yeast ( onset & 1/3 through) to ensure nobody’s stealing food.
    I suggest it because Sequential inoculation can be more stubborn. And you’re already behind the 8-ball attempting mlf on a kit.

    If this were the case then @Johnd’s Bravado would have the odor. Which it doesn’t.
    Plus- its an experiment!
     
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  15. Nov 8, 2019 #15

    James Ruiz

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    Based on everyone's input, I'm going to be split the batch up prior to fermentation so that I can co-inoculate for MLF. I'm leaning toward VP-41 MLB purely based on reading about people's past success with that strain.

    I ended up purchasing a Wine Expert Selection Shiraz kit. It was the lowest priced kit with the highest amount of concentrate (16L).
     
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  16. Nov 8, 2019 #16

    Ajmassa

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    I love it! You are a martyr working on behalf of all curious kit makers. Godspeed sir.
     
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  17. Nov 9, 2019 #17

    montanarick

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    I mat have missed something somewhere, but why in the world would you want to put kit wine through MLF?
     
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  18. Nov 9, 2019 #18

    James Ruiz

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    Hey Rick.

    2 reasons:

    1. To find out if it can be done successfully.
    2. If it can be done, to discover if there is any real benefit/improvement to the resulting wine.
     
  19. Nov 9, 2019 #19

    montanarick

    montanarick

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    Best of luck and please let me know how it goes. FYI, I have added lysozyme after MLF and then sorbate to back-sweeten without geranium problem. hope that helps.
     
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  20. Nov 9, 2019 #20

    jsbeckton

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    I’ve never had a tart tasting kit wine so agree there doesn’t seem to be any potential upside. I think that the only thing this may confirm is that the MLB doesn’t actually hurt the kit wine...
     

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