The Juice Bucket Questions Begin!

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vinny

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As per usual I am sure these questions will lead to more questions, but the two main thoughts at the moment are MLF and oak.

I noted in another post that my juice buckets taste more unbalanced than a kit will going into secondary. The acidity is sharp. I am thinking this is an opportunity to discover the changes MLF will make and I wonder if I should do 1 or all three.

These were brough to my LHBS last Monday night. I picked them up Tuesday morning. One showed fermentation signs that night, the other two the next morning. I pitched my own starters at 10 grams to combat the included strains. They fermented quick and I had to cool them, hot days, but I think aggressive fermentation was the bigger factor. They were done last Friday, and I airlocked until yesterday to get more off the skins and seeds. The Carmenere was not on skins and it was just shy of a carboy where the other two with skins left me with a gallon and a liter after topping up the Carmenere.

If I move onto MLF do I leave it alone until that is finished, or can I add oak during that stage? My Cab Shiraz Montepulciano had french oak added and It has a wonderful vanilla flavor. I expect I should play around with American and French oak at the least to find a preference.

I will likely have to do an online order and BOSA grapes has most anything I could want, so I just thought I would see where everyone weighs in before I get started.
 
MLF, yes you should try to get it going, it might help the sharpness. My advice is do not buy the cheap liquid MLB good for 6 gallons, it is very sensitive to SO2 levels. Memory tells me it has to be below 10 ppm and that is a combined Free and bound number, even if you didn't add any SO2 when you got the buckets you are probably above that level.

Oak types, I prefer French oak Medium or Medium Plus toast, I think it gives slightly less harsh notes and in your face oak than American Oak at the same toast level. You can and should add the oak at the same time as the MLB, it somewhat helps give the MLB a place to live and work, other than the bottom of your carboy. MLB should be stirred, gently, occasionally. For me that means put something in to stir with, sanitized, of course, and give it 1-5 gentle stirs. At the start I try to stir every other or every third day. After a few weeks, I cut that down to once a week or so, I don't schedule it and do it when I think about it. I generally wait a minimum of two months before doing any testing for MLF completion and if I do a test that shows not complete, I don't test again for a month. You might and then again might not see anything that looks like activity, you should not expect to see blurps in an airlock, but pinhead sized bubbles moving up along the sides of the carboy.
 
I noted in another post that my juice buckets taste more unbalanced than a kit will going into secondary. The acidity is sharp. I am thinking this is an opportunity to discover the changes MLF will make and I wonder if I should do 1 or all three.
As young as it is, the wine has a lot of CO2 in it, which gives it an acidic tang. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do MLF, just that part of the problem may be transitory. You might also have high tartaric, which MLF won't help.

If it were me, I'd do a malic acid check before ordering MLB.

Beyond that, I like Craig's advice and would follow it.
 
As young as it is, the wine has a lot of CO2 in it, which gives it an acidic tang. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do MLF, just that part of the problem may be transitory. You might also have high tartaric, which MLF won't help.

If it were me, I'd do a malic acid check before ordering MLB.

Beyond that, I like Craig's advice and would follow it.
Not to say that I know better, but you are wrong. 🤣

I kid, I kid... I am comparing the acidity of the pails to that of previous kits at the same stage. I always taste when racking and these seem more jagged. I did add skins that had seeds, and all the kits I have done have only had skins so this may very well be higher tannin than I am used to.

My advice is do not buy the cheap liquid MLB good for 6 gallons

I added 1/4 k-meta to all and dosed the early starter a second time to see what the effect would be.. Nothing!
For me that means put something in to stir with, sanitized, of course, and give it 1-5 gentle stirs.
I am surprised how well the lazy Susan works. It took me a bit to figure, but I have the LS in a milk crate under the carboy. 10 good spins in one direction and the yeast is about half way up the carboy, switch directions for 12-15 and you are 3/4, one more in the other direction and your well mixed, this is how I am doing my Battonage in the Chardonnay.

Any recommendations on a good test kit?
 
Good test kits. Not from me, there are probably plenty out there, but I use Luddite test strips from Amazon. I don't want the chemicals around.

Oh and I would not be hopeful about mlf starting when you added that extra kmeta. I would certainly buy one that can handle lots of SO2. I feel like the juice buckets and Chilean grapes get extra SO2 added them at the source. I have no proof of any of this,just gut feelings.
 
Good test kits. Not from me, there are probably plenty out there, but I use Luddite test strips from Amazon. I don't want the chemicals around.

Oh and I would not be hopeful about mlf starting when you added that extra kmeta. I would certainly buy one that can handle lots of SO2. I feel like the juice buckets and Chilean grapes get extra SO2 added them at the source. I have no proof of any of this,just gut feelings.
Am I mistaken in my understanding that dumping in K-meta and whipping up those musts to incorporate O2 would dissipate SO2 levels. Or are we assuming most O2 would be taken up by the yeast?
 
Am I mistaken in my understanding that dumping in K-meta and whipping up those musts to incorporate O2 would dissipate SO2 levels. Or are we assuming most O2 would be taken up by the yeast?

That dissipates free SO2, but not bound up SO2. I think both types impact the Malolactic Fermentation.
 
I always taste when racking and these seem more jagged. I did add skins that had seeds, and all the kits I have done have only had skins so this may very well be higher tannin than I am used to.
Do you know what the test numbers are? pH TA ,,, My experience looking at spring buckets from Chile is that in the last four years acids have been low. pH has mostly been OK to marginal. As a result I suggest adding acid to the buckets from our supplier.

You are correct that tannin will complement/ intensify acid flavor notes. Tannin by itself gives either a bitter or an astringent note which is slower to wash out of the mouth than acid notes. A trick to isolate the tannin flavor note is to neutralize the acid to around pH 7 then taste. ,,,( I look at this on TA titration samples at pH 8.2 since the MSDS on my sodium hydroxide does not list any preservatives.)
Bryan’s note on CO2 in a young wine, ,,, this brings fairly fast to wash out of the mouth bitter notes like unsweetened carbonated water flavor.
As a northern hybrid grape grower I throw everything at the wine. MLF as well as chilling to -2C to pull out bitartrates,, BUT I want to know that I am fixing the part of the problem that is responsible for the flavor issue.
 
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