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MLF explained well...

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NorCal

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Ah, the timing is good for me. I am considering not purchasing mlb for this next season and letting it occur naturally with what is in the barrel. This is the practice of a commercial winemaker I know. One thing he said, I don’t believe is true; that by adding SO2 you kill the bacteria. If that were the case, how could you have it naturally occur the next season, without adding new bacteria. I did take note of his point of not completing mlf in the winter and having the wine exposed until it does.

Thanks for posting.
 

jgmillr1

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If that were the case, how could you have it naturally occur the next season, without adding new bacteria.
What he meant is that if the sulfite level is high in the wine, it will kill off bacteria that make it into the wine either from an intentional addition or from coming out of the barrel wood. That is, sulfites are doing their job. The reason why MLF can occur in the same barrel the next year without adding new bacteria is that it is impossible to thoroughly sanitize the wood of a barrel to kill off bacteria that are hiding in the crevasses inside there.

It is more expensive to innoculate the barrels with MLF bacteria but it ensures you have it complete in a timely manner. Letting the wine hang in the barrel with low sulfites levels into the spring with the hope it eventually completes is risking oxidation. Since the surface area to volume is much higher in small barrels, small batch home winemakers are at much higher risk of wine oxidation than commercial wineries using 60+ gallon barrels.
 

balatonwine

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One thing he said, I don’t believe is true; that by adding SO2 you kill the bacteria.
You are technically correct. It mostly prevents folate synthesis, which prevents growth and reproduction, but does not necessarily overtly kill the existing bacteria. Unable to reproduce, and without external inoculation, the bacteria colony eventually experiences senescence and dies off if sulfate levels are kept high.
 
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