Taste testing during MLF

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SCAndy

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So I have a carboy of malbec sitting in my barrel room ( ok, it's in the walk in shower of the downstairs bathroom). It is the most temp stable room I have.
This batch was fermented from a frozen bucket of grapes in what I refer to as the " ready, fire, aim" process. Learning as I go. Sometimes painfully but I have soaked up a ton of knowledge along the way.
To avoid the same old question of ; how long does malo take? that seems to show up here and on web searches, I am curious about experiences you all have taste testing during malolactic process.
I am on week 9 of active Malo. Yesterday I tasted a small sample and my reaction was somewhat disappointing. My notes are: tart, acidic, and maybe even a touch C02ish feel. Great color and clarity and not bad enough to make me think it has failed.
I am still seeing a very very slow parade of tiny bubbles but much less than the first four weeks or so. I had inoculated with CH16. I tasted thinking Malo was maybe wrapping up. Have not lab tested.
Back to my question. Does taste during malo follow a predictable trend or is it even useful until a technical analysis has been made confirming the lack of malo?
 

Johnd

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You’ll see little to no change in the taste. Your wine is green and a dew days old, typically, it’s not wonderful, it’s green, tart, disjointed, tannic, still with funky aromas and tastes. If things go well, MLF should be done in weeks, the taste of wine develops in months and years. If you’re taste buds are sensitive or trained enough, you should notice the sharpness / acidity mellow as your malic acid is converted to the much mellower lactic acid. It’s a good start to a longer process.
 

WellingtonToad

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History is so useful. Once upon a time, winemakers didn't understand fermentation or MLF. They simply knew that the slow stream of bubbles continued for a long time. To gain some control of this problem they had procedures to follow and defeat the problem. Some wineries still use the age old methods.
Once when visiting one such winery I asked "how long do you leave the wine in the barrel?". The answer was 18 months. Thinking it through I worked out that Harvest date is never certain. Likewise the temperature of the days after harvest. To ensure that they completed MLF, they would allow the wine to experience the remainder of warm weather from this season, then the full summer in the following season. With all of that time MLF should be finished.
Modern times we can inoculate with MLB, add nutrients and control the temperature before testing to see that it is complete.
Times have changed.
 

NorCal

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I’ve found the mlf times are like the awkward teenage years. The wine is full of CO2, which can result it a sharp taste, totally masking the niceness that will evolve. I‘ve been tasting my barrel (too often) which I’ve spent a lot of attention on. My opinion has ranged from disappointment to, oh my this may be something special. Its hard to know how your child is going to turn out at this stage in its life.
 

wineview

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So I have a carboy of malbec sitting in my barrel room ( ok, it's in the walk in shower of the downstairs bathroom). It is the most temp stable room I have.
This batch was fermented from a frozen bucket of grapes in what I refer to as the " ready, fire, aim" process. Learning as I go. Sometimes painfully but I have soaked up a ton of knowledge along the way.
To avoid the same old question of ; how long does malo take? that seems to show up here and on web searches, I am curious about experiences you all have taste testing during malolactic process.
I am on week 9 of active Malo. Yesterday I tasted a small sample and my reaction was somewhat disappointing. My notes are: tart, acidic, and maybe even a touch C02ish feel. Great color and clarity and not bad enough to make me think it has failed.
I am still seeing a very very slow parade of tiny bubbles but much less than the first four weeks or so. I had inoculated with CH16. I tasted thinking Malo was maybe wrapping up. Have not lab tested.
Back to my question. Does taste during malo follow a predictable trend or is it even useful until a technical analysis has been made confirming the lack of malo?

I started a long post on MLF if you care to read some of the exchanges. In short it is one of the most difficult things I’ve done with my wine making. A lot might have to do with the fact that it is the first time I attempted it and unsure what I am looking for.
 

heatherd

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So I have a carboy of malbec sitting in my barrel room ( ok, it's in the walk in shower of the downstairs bathroom). It is the most temp stable room I have.
This batch was fermented from a frozen bucket of grapes in what I refer to as the " ready, fire, aim" process. Learning as I go. Sometimes painfully but I have soaked up a ton of knowledge along the way.
To avoid the same old question of ; how long does malo take? that seems to show up here and on web searches, I am curious about experiences you all have taste testing during malolactic process.
I am on week 9 of active Malo. Yesterday I tasted a small sample and my reaction was somewhat disappointing. My notes are: tart, acidic, and maybe even a touch C02ish feel. Great color and clarity and not bad enough to make me think it has failed.
I am still seeing a very very slow parade of tiny bubbles but much less than the first four weeks or so. I had inoculated with CH16. I tasted thinking Malo was maybe wrapping up. Have not lab tested.
Back to my question. Does taste during malo follow a predictable trend or is it even useful until a technical analysis has been made confirming the lack of malo?
Over time it should shift from fruity and sharp to smooth and integrated. If you taste your wine up against a similar wine that's been through MLF you can taste the difference. MLF is a process that tends to be weeks or months. Chromo testing more accurate if you want to be certain you got it all.
 

SCAndy

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Thanks all for the historical perspective as well as a little confidence booster. It's hard when you can be so book smart, but having never actually made that step off the ledge to the unknown............
It amazes me that the wine will be OK without sulphur for so long. I'm filled way up to the neck, stoppered with air lock and averaging approx 65 deg plus or minus. Will keep you all posted on how things go.
Thanks again for the input.
 

SCAndy

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UPDATE
got lab results:
PH 3.65
TA 7.6
FreeS02. 3.0. Mg/L
Malic. < .04

So, this morning I racked off light lees and hit with S02 dose.
Added an oz of med toast French oak cubes and topped with just a bit of store bought. Under airlock for hopefully cool Socal late winter storage.

Surprised the pH rose so much. The must was listed as 3. 23 from Brehm vinyards but not verified on my bucket by me.
I understand that an increase in pH is normal during fermentation but was not expecting so much. My main concern had been if malo could start at that low level.
A pH meter is on my birthday list. Ha!
What type of pH changes do you experience? And are there some obvious variables in the equation?

Ps - it tasted "better".
 

SCAndy

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Sadly it's just a 3 gallon. I was also heavy on my weight so I figured I should be good for now. Time will tell........
 

SCAndy

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Yep,
I was headed there. But then my homemade "press" became unhinged. Literally. Right when I needed her most. Still managed a growler extra but I felt that it went south while MLF was supposedly happening. So left with sole junior carboy.

Still this Wine 101 class has been fun. Can't wait for the fall semester next season when I enroll in Wine 102.
 
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I use the “bucket press” method…not fancy, but after I fill the 6 gallon bucket full of water (48 lbs) and then sit my ass on it (230 lbs) and then talk my wife (130 lbs) into sitting on My lap, I end up with 408 pounds and it works good enough. Some day I may splurge on a real press 😂
 

SCAndy

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Today's update on this maiden batch of Washington st malbec.
"Barrel" tasting today.
Clarity: fantastic. Had racked 2 months ago.
Color: fantastic and deep
Nose : I'm an optimist...
Taste: surprisingly still has a bit of C0 2 ish element. Sharp. The wife's comment, " a bit of spritz".
Mouthfeel lacking compared to topping bottle I had opened, but I expected that since no additions were made during ferm to help in that dept. Happy with the fact that my wine seemed to have better / deeper extraction than the pros topping wine!
My barrel room temp is creeping up so I want to get ready to bottle so I can get it into cooler environment.
Also, blending trials next as well.
TBD... but lovin it.
 

CDrew

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Today's update on this maiden batch of Washington st malbec.
"Barrel" tasting today.
Clarity: fantastic. Had racked 2 months ago.
Color: fantastic and deep
Nose : I'm an optimist...
Taste: surprisingly still has a bit of C0 2 ish element. Sharp. The wife's comment, " a bit of spritz".
Mouthfeel lacking compared to topping bottle I had opened, but I expected that since no additions were made during ferm to help in that dept. Happy with the fact that my wine seemed to have better / deeper extraction than the pros topping wine!
My barrel room temp is creeping up so I want to get ready to bottle so I can get it into cooler environment.
Also, blending trials next as well.
TBD... but lovin it.

This all sounds like great news. CO2 can persist a long time. It helps if you vacuum rack but even then I've still had more CO2 than I want at a year. Leave it be, do not bottle it yet, and if it's inside the house, the temps will be fine. It's still really young. I'll bet with your numbers it will be excellent in time. I'm not a big believer in "degassing" but if you have a vacuum pump you can rack it uphill which is very effective at removing CO2.

I think what you did is exactly what everyone new to this hobby should do. ie A 5 gallon vintage starting from a bucket of frozen grapes. That will teach you more about wine making than any amount of Dragon pee or similar.

Also-I have wine in a walk in shower too. Lol.
 
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wineview

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Today's update on this maiden batch of Washington st malbec.
"Barrel" tasting today.
Clarity: fantastic. Had racked 2 months ago.
Color: fantastic and deep
Nose : I'm an optimist...
Taste: surprisingly still has a bit of C0 2 ish element. Sharp. The wife's comment, " a bit of spritz".
Mouthfeel lacking compared to topping bottle I had opened, but I expected that since no additions were made during ferm to help in that dept. Happy with the fact that my wine seemed to have better / deeper extraction than the pros topping wine!
My barrel room temp is creeping up so I want to get ready to bottle so I can get it into cooler environment.
Also, blending trials next as well.
TBD... but lovin it.
The wife’s comment “ a bit of a spritz “ would be Something I would want to eliminate. A quick degassing might prove helpful. Another thought, after going through MLF, I would think there would not be any “spritz” in the mouthfeel. I have hit and miss with MLF but my goal is a smooth silky rounded mouth feel when MLF works as it should.
 

SCAndy

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CDrew
Thanks for input. I will be more patient.
But ambient temp is now creeping up........74 deg
That gets my skin crawling, as I would never store my good stuff like that.
Am I being too paranoid. Patience is virtue...I know.

Wineview
Yes, I definitely want that CO2ish taste to dissipate. Hoping time and racking cure it. Also completed MLF totally so it's in Mama natures and my hands now.
 

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