Malolactic fermentation for elderberry wine?

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BarrelMonkey

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I am making my first (3 gal) batch of elderberry and just tested for malic acid. From what I've read, elderberries have similar levels of malic acid to grapes so, not surprisingly, when I ran a chromatogram there was a big malic acid signal. I've already sulfured this wine when I first racked it, but I'm curious to know if anyone has done intentional (or accidental!) MLF on their elderberry wine?
 

ChuckD

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I will be watching this thread with great interest. I just racked a three gallon batch of elderberry to the secondary about three weeks ago (a first here too). I also have a 5 gallon wild grape wine at the same stage. I’m a newbie and only heard of malolactic fermentation when I found this this site a few weeks ago. I’m wondering if it’s something I need to do for both.
 

Rice_Guy

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Using pressed juice I have numbers as:
2020 pH 4.81/ TA 0.78%
2019 pH 4.63/ TA 0.72%
2018 pH 4.26/ TA 0.67%
When you run two pounds per gallon you have further diluted the Titratable acidity to a range of 0.1%.
elderberry seems to be deficient in acid, I add acid to my elderberry, not remove it. @ChuckD next year consider mixing your high acid wild grape with some elderberry. My favorite is to use up concord juice as an acid source to make elderberry.
 

stickman

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With malolactic fermentation on Elderberry, you may end up converting both the malic and citric acid, which would as @Rice_Guy indicated leave the wine acid deficient. @BarrelMonkey I noticed what looks like a citric spot on your elderberry chromatogram you previously posted in a different thread, it's the spot between the tartaric and malic spots.
 
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ChuckD

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Thanks for the tip Rice_guy. I have lots of Lees in my Elderberry carboy and extra wild grape. Now I know what I will be using for topping that one up when I rack it again.

Would wild grape benefit from malolactic? It’s been in the secondary about two weeks and activity is down to a few very fine bubbles… not even enough to make the airlock move. I tasted it when I racked it out of the primary and it was like a mix of welches grape juice and jet fuel😵‍💫

Oh and the pH was quite low. Something like 3.2. I don’t have my notes with me.
 

BarrelMonkey

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elderberry seems to be deficient in acid, I add acid to my elderberry, not remove it. @ChuckD next year consider mixing your high acid wild grape with some elderberry. My favorite is to use up concord juice as an acid source to make elderberry.

My initial pH/TA was 4.23/0.34% (crushed berries, not blenderized or pressed) and 16.7 brix. I added sugar and tartaric to bring brix up to 23.0, and starting pH/TA were 3.38/0.62%. I also had a few lb of (Black Monukka) grape in there...

@stickman thanks for the comment about citric acid, that makes sense - I thought the elderberry lane was a lot more smeared out than the grape samples..
 

Rice_Guy

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this is what I would call a question of “what style do you like to drink?”

I do lots of fruit wines and target a pH of 3.2 to 3.3. and a TA close to 1.0%, with high solids. The positive of doing my style is that it has lots of flavor impact. The negative is that I balance the wine out close to 1.010 by back sweetening. I have had rhubarb with so much aroma impact that it won best of show in contest, but the folks in accounting would slap my hand for wasting so much expensive ingredient for a wine where you smell it and say wow. I like the style where I thumb my nose at accounting.
There are lots of red grapes which has a style where the wine is 0.992 or so, and TA of 0.55%. The positive is that it is stable/ dry and has lots of flavor built around tannins/ oak which make good antioxidants, and can be very smooth drinking. The negative is that that style usually has lost fruity aromas and my wife really doesn’t like oak flavor. This year I am trying to reach that style by removing malic acid by fermenting with Maurivin B (metabolizes 56%)/ 71B (metabolizes 33%) which might let me make a style that is semi sweet say 1.004 yet maintain knock your Sox off aroma, ,,,, so again what style do you want?
The chances are good that you can get an attractive balance/ winning wine if you chose any spot on the blue line below. , , , , , one trick I do at every racking is that there is some left over so I will try different sugar levels to get a feel on where it should finish
Would wild grape benefit from malolactic? . . . . . I tasted it when I racked it out of the primary and it was like a mix of welches grape juice and jet fuel😵‍💫
Oh and the pH was quite low. Something like 3.2.
A guideline for where to balance TA on wine;
after club contest this year I collected eight first place wines which are the red triangles
View attachment 81200
The sample set "cloud" is primarily commercial wines, with some collected in the vinters club and here on WineMakingTalk
NOTE: TA is one of several quality traits which a first place wine has as absence of flavor defect, appropriate aroma for the variety and clarity , , , etc.
NOTE 2: this is an easy test, if ya'll are interested in your wine ,,, PM me
Note: you say you made rocket fuel. If rocket fuel is acetaldehyde (burn in the back of the throat) this is a defect that sugar will not fix. If rocket fuel is high alcohol like a port sugar will help.
 

ChuckD

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this is what I would call a question of “what style do you like to drink?”

I do lots of fruit wines and target a pH of 3.2 to 3.3. and a TA close to 1.0%, with high solids. The positive of doing my style is that it has lots of flavor impact. The negative is that I balance the wine out close to 1.010 by back sweetening. I have had rhubarb with so much aroma impact that it won best of show in contest, but the folks in accounting would slap my hand for wasting so much expensive ingredient for a wine where you smell it and say wow. I like the style where I thumb my nose at accounting.
There are lots of red grapes which has a style where the wine is 0.992 or so, and TA of 0.55%. The positive is that it is stable/ dry and has lots of flavor built around tannins/ oak which make good antioxidants, and can be very smooth drinking. The negative is that that style usually has lost fruity aromas and my wife really doesn’t like oak flavor. This year I am trying to reach that style by removing malic acid by fermenting with Maurivin B (metabolizes 56%)/ 71B (metabolizes 33%) which might let me make a style that is semi sweet say 1.004 yet maintain knock your Sox off aroma, ,,,, so again what style do you want?
The chances are good that you can get an attractive balance/ winning wine if you chose any spot on the blue line below. , , , , , one trick I do at every racking is that there is some left over so I will try different sugar levels to get a feel on where it should finish


Note: you say you made rocket fuel. If rocket fuel is acetaldehyde (burn in the back of the throat) this is a defect that sugar will not fix. If rocket fuel is high alcohol like a port sugar will help.

OK, I have my notes now... Original pH of the must was 3.06 with a SG of 1.062. I adjusted the pH to 3.15 with a small addition of Calcium Carb. I planned to raise the SG to 1.000 and added simple syrup the next day but overshot and hit 1.114. I used Lalvin 71B yeast. I left the skins and seeds in a straining bag in the must for 7 days and punched it down 2x a day. When I racked it to the primary on day 9 the SG was still 1.014 with a pH of 3.28. at the time it still had some of that that thick and sweet grapey flavor with the harsh alcohol taste I seem to get in every wine during late fermentation. I assume, like my other wines, that will mellow out. I am very particular about washing and disinfecting everything and use K-meta on the must and at racking, so I don't know how I would have acetaldehyde in the wine... isn't this caused by vinegar bacteria?

I planned on racking it again in a couple weeks then putting it in the cellar. I have so many questions that aren't covered in most recipes... do I de-gas it and when? should I add oak? should I do that cold-crash thing and when? I can see why making wine gets addictive! I just wish I could taste the results sooner.
 

Rice_Guy

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@ChuckD
Your wine is young therefore I don’t see a lot of oxidation risk, if you said a month or five then yes.
I wonder if the harsh you pick up is from pulling pigments and flavor out of the skins. The first steep I did with concord turned me off on the flavor. Do you taste every time you punch it down? . . have an idea about when it became harsh.
Vinegar has harshness and it has a low boiling point so it is easy to magnify the aroma by heating half an ounce for 45 or 60 seconds. . . Compare against salad dressing aroma. On a wine with little air exposure the risk is low and on a wine less than a month old the risk of objectionable levels is low. Vinegar is part of the flavor mix on most/ basically all wines since yeast will produce some.
CO2 produces a bitter sparkling water flavor note. Harsh as LaCroix or a hard seltzer?

Degassing question, this is mainly reflected by how patient ,,,, or how fast you need to empty out a carboy. You have some yeast metabolism if under a month age so real young wine is pointless. Kits target ninety days. Lots of fruit wines and factory wines target a year so the equipment is ready for the next harvest. Good red grapes going to an estate winery could be years.
Oak is available, I haven’t hunted in GreenBay but the brewing store in Manitowoc and Oshkosh had some. All I can say is pick up a wine and oak it for a month, the vinters do this every year making samples to train judges. (was surprised after the club contest to be cleaning up a bottle with a few cubes in it). Another way to back into this is see if your store has an extract like Sintan, or make your own extract with a jar of cubes and grain alcohol. Then do a pipette bench trial to see if you like flavor and how much. ….. Wine is hedonic , , , look for flavors you like.
The local vinters club has had demonstrations of Hungarian vs American vs chips vs cubes vs light vs dark toast with gallon samples. Too bad you are a few hours out. The real addictive part is sharing a bottle.
 

ChuckD

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Gallon samples 🍷 . Now that’s what I’m talking about 😃.

I typically do taste every time I punch it down and It went through the typical (to me) progression. I did note that this juice seemed much thicker with more body but all I could compare it to was apple wine. I will rack it again this weekend and give it a taste.

As I understand it I can oak any time during bulk aging. I may have to round up some gallon bottles and split the batch up for aging and try some different oak treatments.
 

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as i read, i can see yawl are are educated vinters , elderberry, is a simple wine, except for taste, i don't comment on elderberry anymore, i'm sure most are tired of me repeating myself, the key to a good to great elderberry wine is elderberry is a very long aging wine, it really makes a fair wine at 5 to 6 years,,, at 8 years it is a very good wine, at 10 years it is a very fine wine, now to cut it down time wise,,, you ferment 1/2 elderberry,, and 1/2 blackberry ,, all mixed from day one, then you get a very good wine at 3 years , that is fermented together from start to finish, it reduces the bite, and brings out a boldness,
just my 2 cents
Dawg
 

Sailor323

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elderberry seems to be deficient in acid, I add acid to my elderberry, not remove it. @ChuckD next year consider mixing your high acid wild grape with some elderberry. My favorite is to use up concord juice as an acid source to make elderberry.
This has been my experience with elderberry--very flat without the addition of acid. Yes, concord/elder is a great combo
 

ChuckD

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I've noticed in the last year or 2, a lot of folks to looking at blending to improve their wines, and not just in terms of red grapes.
Well, with that overpowering (foxy) grape aroma I’m hoping that blending can knock it back to a pleasant grape aroma. I still plan on oaking the grape for a few months (I’ll check it after a month) and letting both age for a year. Next winter I’ll try some bench tests. Or would you recommend longer aging separately?
 
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Well, with that overpowering (foxy) grape aroma I’m hoping that blending can knock it back to a pleasant grape aroma. I still plan on oaking the grape for a few months (I’ll check it after a month) and letting both age for a year. Next winter I’ll try some bench tests. Or would you recommend longer aging separately?
Before a few years ago, I did little to no blending, and until the last couple of years, I haven't read much on WMT regarding it. A few folks keep Petit Verdot on hand for blending, but they seemed like a tiny minority.

This mirrored USA, Australian, and South American wines, which focused on varietal wines.

Recently I'm seeing a change of opinion both on WMT and in the above commercial wines. Blending is ok, something Europe has known for centuries.

Regarding your situation, I'm totally comfortable with field blending Vinifera reds. If starting with a major grape (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, etc), IMO any other Vinifera red can be successfully blended in. My capacity limit prevents me from bulk aging varieties separately, and I've been highly successful in choosing blends based upon general grape characteristics.

Your case is different. You have a wine with a perceived fault (some folks like the foxiness, and for them it's not a fault), and want to eliminate it. For that reason I'd bulk age on oak for 6 to 12 months, to give time and oak the opportunity to make changes. Then perform bench trials.

You mentioned bulk aging for 12 months. I'd still do a trial at 6 months to see what you have to work with. At that point you can decide to bottle or bulk age longer. Or to make a blend and bulk age that for another 6 months. All of these options work.
 

BarrelMonkey

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I do lots of fruit wines and target a pH of 3.2 to 3.3. and a TA close to 1.0%, with high solids...

Re-reading this thread since I just racked my elderberry wine and measured pH and TA as 3.31 and 8.8g/L respectively. That TA seems a bit high to me, though I did forget to de-gas my sample so that may have had some impact. Of course I took the opportunity to taste it and was pleasantly surprised - clearly a long way from ready (only 4 months out from press), but plenty of bright fruit. I will wait until it's further along before deciding whether to (slightly) sweeten the final product.

Also of interest, 3 months ago I added a few 'Xoakers' (1 per gallon) to the wine. When I racked, they were crusted with what I assume were tartrate deposits (there were also a bunch of crystals in the bottom of the carboy). I rinsed them off as best I could and returned them to the wine, though I'm not sure if these deposits will hamper the oaking influence.
 

Rice_Guy

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Every once and a while I will see a mention that the TA decreases with time. There are a few
variables to this as bitartrate crystals (tartaric acid) coming out of solution, or alcohols become esterified with any available acids (stop being acidic). Mostly this is looked at as beneficial giving a “smooth” flavor/ less risk of gunk in the last glass poured, ,,, and folks toss the tartaric.

Well, ,,, if you have bitartrate come out you can’t expect it to go back in solution unless you heat the wine (ex boil in a kettle) and then there is a risk that it falls out again with time. ,,,, If you feel you need the extra acid for mouth feel, you will be better off adding phosphoric or citric or lactic or malic acids since they will not crystallize out.
Re-reading this thread since I just racked my elderberry wine and measured pH and TA as 3.31 and 8.8g/L respectively. That TA seems a bit high to me, though I did forget to de-gas my sample so that may have had some impact. Of course I took the opportunity to taste it and was pleasantly surprised - clearly a long way from ready (only 4 months out from press), but plenty of bright fruit. I will wait until it's further along before deciding whether to (slightly) sweeten the final product.

Also of interest, 3 months ago I added a few 'Xoakers' (1 per gallon) to the wine. When I racked, they were crusted with what I assume were tartrate deposits (there were also a bunch of crystals in the bottom of the carboy). I rinsed them off as best I could and returned them to the wine, though I'm not sure if these deposits will hamper the oaking influence.
 

hounddawg

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Every once and a while I will see a mention that the TA decreases with time. There are a few
variables to this as bitartrate crystals (tartaric acid) coming out of solution, or alcohols become esterified with any available acids (stop being acidic). Mostly this is looked at as beneficial giving a “smooth” flavor/ less risk of gunk in the last glass poured, ,,, and folks toss the tartaric.

Well, ,,, if you have bitartrate come out you can’t expect it to go back in solution unless you heat the wine (ex boil in a kettle) and then there is a risk that it falls out again with time. ,,,, If you feel you need the extra acid for mouth feel, you will be better off adding phosphoric or citric or lactic or malic acids since they will not crystallize out.
as for TA and crystals,,i have never had any, knock on wood, @Rice_Guy PM me your picture so i can sew a doll of you,,, lol
just kidding, BAHWAA,, lol
SKOAL
Dawg
 

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