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BernardSmith

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I have just begun to make a first batch of wine using fresh grapes. I have made only a couple of kits (I make country wines and mead , not grape wines) and I wonder why kits don't include any instructions for malolactic fermentation. More to the point: why don't kits acknowledge MLF? Is it unlikely that MLF will spontaneously occur in the bottle... OR is it that the way that the juice is prepared all MLF bacteria that are naturally on the grapes have been killed?
 

NoQuarter

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I think kits are made so that any high school, school girl can make a pretty good wine with little previous experience.

We all know there are many ways to change up these kits, improve upon many aspects of these kits... they are foolproof, like putting together a model airplane. they go middle of the road ingredients that will make a wine with very little help from you. A great place for a beginner to start.
 

sour_grapes

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Yes, it is generally thought that MLF shouldn't be done on kits. Tim Vandergrift (the "godfather of kits") says that "it will end up in tears." The theory is that the kit is already balanced with the correct pH and acidity, and so you don't want to mess that up.
 

BernardSmith

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Not argueing or questioning about the balance etc of kits. I take that as a given but my question is really about why MLF does not often or sometimes spontaneously occur. When you make wine from whole or frozen grapes you need to be prepared for spontaneous MLF - or you need to control the MLF by inoculating the wine with lab cultured bacteria. Is it that the kit manufacturers have removed all MLF bacteria as they prepare the kit or is it that the instructions to add K-meta at the stages when given kill the bacteria or what?
 

Johnd

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Not argueing or questioning about the balance etc of kits. I take that as a given but my question is really about why MLF does not often or sometimes spontaneously occur. When you make wine from whole or frozen grapes you need to be prepared for spontaneous MLF - or you need to control the MLF by inoculating the wine with lab cultured bacteria. Is it that the kit manufacturers have removed all MLF bacteria as they prepare the kit or is it that the instructions to add K-meta at the stages when given kill the bacteria or what?
The juice you get in a kit is rendered inert in some fashion or another, whether it is pasteurized or sterilized, I have no idea. Malolactic bacteria and yeast are not present in the product as they are on grapes that come from the vineyard, so the odds of alcoholic fermentation or MLF starting up on its own are slim to none, otherwise, the product would have no shelf life. The sulfite that we add to the wine after AF is further insurance that MLF won't kick off spontaneously, even the most sulfite hardy strains can't handle levels above 50 ppm.

Furthermore, most kits furnish potassium sorbate to be added, this additive in the presence of active MLF will produce the flavor / aroma of geraniums and will ruin your wine unrecoverably.

And, as has been purported here numerous times, these kits are balance by adding malic acid, man made acid, not the same malic acid that occurs naturally in grapes, and MLB have no effect in converting this acid to lactic acid. Performing MLF may convert some of the malic, the naturally occurring portion, but none of the artificial portion will be converted.

All that said, I've stored kit wines in barrels that have MLB in them from grape batches, no sorbate added to the kit wine, with no noticeable effects. Running chromotography side by side with grape wines in other MLB laden barrels confirmed that all of the malic in the grape wines was converted, while the kit wine still exhibited a large malic spot on the chromotography paper. So what's the point??????????
 

sour_grapes

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Not argueing or questioning about the balance etc of kits. I take that as a given but my question is really about why MLF does not often or sometimes spontaneously occur. When you make wine from whole or frozen grapes you need to be prepared for spontaneous MLF - or you need to control the MLF by inoculating the wine with lab cultured bacteria. Is it that the kit manufacturers have removed all MLF bacteria as they prepare the kit or is it that the instructions to add K-meta at the stages when given kill the bacteria or what?
Ah, I see.

I think kits don't acknowledge it because it would be very, very unlikely to occur spontaneously. As you point out, their directed K-meta additions would suppress any MLB, and it is not like most kitmaker's environments are teeming with MLB to begin with.
 

BernardSmith

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The juice you get in a kit is rendered inert in some fashion or another, whether it is pasteurized or sterilized, I have no idea. Malolactic bacteria and yeast are not present in the product as they are on grapes that come from the vineyard, so the odds of alcoholic fermentation or MLF starting up on its own are slim to none, otherwise, the product would have no shelf life. The sulfite that we add to the wine after AF is further insurance that MLF won't kick off spontaneously, even the most sulfite hardy strains can't handle levels above 50 ppm.

Furthermore, most kits furnish potassium sorbate to be added, this additive in the presence of active MLF will produce the flavor / aroma of geraniums and will ruin your wine unrecoverably.

And, as has been purported here numerous times, these kits are balance by adding malic acid, man made acid, not the same malic acid that occurs naturally in grapes, and MLB have no effect in converting this acid to lactic acid. Performing MLF may convert some of the malic, the naturally occurring portion, but none of the artificial portion will be converted.

All that said, I've stored kit wines in barrels that have MLB in them from grape batches, no sorbate added to the kit wine, with no noticeable effects. Running chromotography side by side with grape wines in other MLB laden barrels confirmed that all of the malic in the grape wines was converted, while the kit wine still exhibited a large malic spot on the chromotography paper. So what's the point??????????
The point wasn't that I thought kits SHOULD push for MLF but was why MLF never occurred spontaneously in bottles and so the answers seem to confirm that MLF won't occur spontaneously with kits because a) the juice has no bacteria; b) the kit maker is asked to sulfite before any volunteer bacteria might get a toehold and c) much of the malic is not fermentable anyway by the bacteria. and d) even if naturally occuring malic was present then kits that ask the maker to add K-sorbate would soon be stockpiled as garbage because of the off aromas that would develop.
 

sour_grapes

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The point wasn't that I thought kits SHOULD push for MLF but was why MLF never occurred spontaneously in bottles and so the answers seem to confirm that MLF won't occur spontaneously with kits because a) the juice has no bacteria; b) the kit maker is asked to sulfite before any volunteer bacteria might get a toehold and c) much of the malic is not fermentable anyway by the bacteria. and d) even if naturally occuring malic was present then kits that ask the maker to add K-sorbate would soon be stockpiled as garbage because of the off aromas that would develop.
Yes, I agree with your summary. I apologize for misinterpreting the intent of your original post.
 

Johnd

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Yes, I agree with your summary. I apologize for misinterpreting the intent of your original post.
Pretty sure he was directing that at me more so than you, I went a little too far down the line on the kit / mlf soapbox, sorry................
 
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