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MLF - a question about monitoring

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BernardSmith

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Apart from using chromatography to check to see if any malic acid remains is there any other simple method of determining that it has ended? Do labs offer some guide that if you use their bacteria you can expect fermentation to end after X weeks? Or are we left simply looking for the presence of bubbles rising in the wine? Thanks
 

cmason1957

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I don't do chromotography to check for any malic acid left. I use Malic Acid Test Strips, they are similar to the Ph Test Strips. You put a drop of the wine on the strip, wait 5 minutes, compare the color to the attached chart. If you need to know there is 253 ppm of malic acid left, this isn't the thing for you, but then neither is chromotography. All I care about is, is this particular one done or nearly done. I find them easy enough to use, even in very dark red wines, some folks have complained they are hard to distinguish the colors and they may be, but like I said I don't care 50 or 100 ppm, just is it done and that seems easy enough to me to decide. Also, chromotography shows complete before the experts say you should stop, I seem to remember that at 50 ppm chromotography drops out and below 30 ppm is considered complete. Here's a link to some Amazon.com

And no, you shouldn't just wait X weeks and assume it is complete. It may never have started, even though you think you saw bubbles and it may have completed very quickly and you never see a bubble. The bubbles you might see are pin-prick sized bubbles.
 

BernardSmith

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Thanks. That was really very helpful. I need to see where I can find those strips because all I am interested in is whether the process has finished. Thanks.
 

BernardSmith

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Hi sour_grapes. I assumed that that was what he was referring to. I never knew that test strips to monitor MLF existed. Just bought a pack. Accuvin is charging twice the price that the material in Amazon costs... so I hope I am getting 20 strips and not fewer than 10. But it may be (he said) that those sold directly by Accuvin are new and improved... or it may be that Amazon has a stock that is old and dust-covered...:(
 

mainshipfred

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Bernard, I have a chromatography test kit and do use it as a guide. However with doing sequential inoculation I just let it go 2 1/2 to 3 months. In the past I haven't used any sulfites and never had a problem. I just keep the air space below the bung 1/4" to 1/2". This year though I was considering sulfiting to 25 ppm just to be safe but not sure if I want to do it before or after inoculation. I figure I'm not going to bottle the wine for many months anyway so allowing the time to make sure it's finished is no big deal.
 

BernardSmith

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Bernard, I have a chromatography test kit and do use it as a guide. However with doing sequential inoculation I just let it go 2 1/2 to 3 months. In the past I haven't used any sulfites and never had a problem. I just keep the air space below the bung 1/4" to 1/2". This year though I was considering sulfiting to 25 ppm just to be safe but not sure if I want to do it before or after inoculation. I figure I'm not going to bottle the wine for many months anyway so allowing the time to make sure it's finished is no big deal.
OK , but you say you use a chromatography test kit so you would know if the MLF stalled before it ended. But as I write this I can see that if it did stall then there may not be any way to restart the secondary fermentation. If it stalled can you bottle without any fear after 3 months? (or presumably longer if one were to bulk age the wine...)
 

mainshipfred

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OK , but you say you use a chromatography test kit so you would know if the MLF stalled before it ended. But as I write this I can see that if it did stall then there may not be any way to restart the secondary fermentation. If it stalled can you bottle without any fear after 3 months? (or presumably longer if one were to bulk age the wine...)
Hard for me to say since I haven't had one stall yet. I do use Acti and Opti Malo which probably helps. Your test strips will work just fine to see if it gets stuck. If it does get stuck or doesn't finish to your liking you could also just use Lysozyme or a heavier dose of sulfites. Probably doesn't answer your question but hope it helps.
 

sjjan

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Hard for me to say since I haven't had one stall yet. I do use Acti and Opti Malo which probably helps. Your test strips will work just fine to see if it gets stuck. If it does get stuck or doesn't finish to your liking you could also just use Lysozyme or a heavier dose of sulfites. Probably doesn't answer your question but hope it helps.
I have a rosé that might have gone into MLF right after primary fermentation as the pH all of a sudden rised while the rest of the values (TA, residual sogar, taste) were still good. As I did not want any additional "mouth feel" I stopped the possible MLF fermentation with lysozyme. So, now I am "stuck" with rosé with a pH that is quite high so needing probably additional SO2, right? Any suggestions?
 

mainshipfred

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I have a rosé that might have gone into MLF right after primary fermentation as the pH all of a sudden rised while the rest of the values (TA, residual sogar, taste) were still good. As I did not want any additional "mouth feel" I stopped the possible MLF fermentation with lysozyme. So, now I am "stuck" with rosé with a pH that is quite high so needing probably additional SO2, right? Any suggestions?
I have a rosé that might have gone into MLF right after primary fermentation as the pH all of a sudden rised while the rest of the values (TA, residual sogar, taste) were still good. As I did not want any additional "mouth feel" I stopped the possible MLF fermentation with lysozyme. So, now I am "stuck" with rosé with a pH that is quite high so needing probably additional SO2, right? Any suggestions?
Either additional sulfites or lower the pH. The fact that it's still good is the most important thing.
 

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