Timing of MLF

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

DaveMcC

Escaping the prison of past and future with wine.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
92
Location
Upstate South Carolina
I have 100 gallons of must just complete AF in barrels with fairly tight lids. I pump in some CO2 through the plastic barrel bungs and will do an extended maceration for about two weeks. Should I inoculate for malolactic fermentation while in the primaries with skins and all before pressing? I've read conflicting opinions. Pambianchi says to do MLF before racking off gross lees, as the bacteria make use of the lees for nutrients (I also have Opti-malo Plus on hand to use). Others talk about the bacteria "getting buried" in the lees and recommend pressing first. What to do? Environmental conditions are favorable in my micro-winery (I can maintain 75-80 degrees during cold weather now coming on). So, questions are:

1. Wait until end of extended maceration and press and transfer to my tanks to inoculate? or...
2. Inoculate MLB now while doing extended maceration?

I see where many people do co-inoculation with AF, so this is an in-between strategy or sorts, I guess (inoculating post AF while doing extended maceration).
I know the MLF will take up to a few months to actually complete so it would extend through pressing and transferring to my tanks.

Thanks wine makers, one and all.
Dave
 

Johnd

Senior Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,997
Reaction score
7,558
Location
South Louisiana
I have 100 gallons of must just complete AF in barrels with fairly tight lids. I pump in some CO2 through the plastic barrel bungs and will do an extended maceration for about two weeks. Should I inoculate for malolactic fermentation while in the primaries with skins and all before pressing? I've read conflicting opinions. Pambianchi says to do MLF before racking off gross lees, as the bacteria make use of the lees for nutrients (I also have Opti-malo Plus on hand to use). Others talk about the bacteria "getting buried" in the lees and recommend pressing first. What to do? Environmental conditions are favorable in my micro-winery (I can maintain 75-80 degrees during cold weather now coming on). So, questions are:

1. Wait until end of extended maceration and press and transfer to my tanks to inoculate? or...
2. Inoculate MLB now while doing extended maceration?

I see where many people do co-inoculation with AF, so this is an in-between strategy or sorts, I guess (inoculating post AF while doing extended maceration).
I know the MLF will take up to a few months to actually complete so it would extend through pressing and transferring to my tanks.

Thanks wine makers, one and all.
Dave
Pretty much your choice at this point in time. I’ve been co-inoculating for years and won’t do it any other way again. The lees will definitely add to the available nutrition for the MLB, but nutrients will fill in fine if you wait til pressing is complete.

I can’t figure why you’d barrel must for EM, only to remove it, clean, and reload the barrels after pressing and inoculating in the tank, seems a lot of extra work to me. Do EM in your tanks, press and reload tanks, rack off of gross Lee’s in a few days, conduct MLF in the tanks, transfer nice, clean wine to the barrels. I only load finished wine (post AF, MLF, EM) that pretty clear into my barrels to avoid the accumulation of crud in the bottom, there’s little accumulation in a 60 gallon barrel after 1.5 - 2 years old sitting.
 

DaveMcC

Escaping the prison of past and future with wine.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
92
Location
Upstate South Carolina
I should have specified that my "barrels" are plastic, open top primaries, not oak at this point. My bulk storage and post press wine will go into the steel tanks. Thanks for the comments.
I decided to add the MLB nutrients and inoculate with the bacteria today, so MLF will start during EM and continue through pressing and 1st racking in the steel thanks.
 

Johnd

Senior Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,997
Reaction score
7,558
Location
South Louisiana
I should have specified that my "barrels" are plastic, open top primaries, not oak at this point. My bulk storage and post press wine will go into the steel tanks. Thanks for the comments.
I decided to add the MLB nutrients and inoculate with the bacteria today, so MLF will start during EM and continue through pressing and 1st racking in the steel thanks.

We’ll that makes more sense, LOL!! From your current situation, I’d do the same if I were the WM.
 

wineview

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
362
I have my MLF going in six gallon carboys. When taking a sample to see how things are progressing, do I need to dig deep into the carboy for the sample or can I take it off the top.
 

DaveMcC

Escaping the prison of past and future with wine.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
92
Location
Upstate South Carolina
If MLF is proceeding, sampling from the top of the carboy is fine. The bacteria change the chemistry of the wine and you are looking at the acids specifically, so off the top is fine. I use a standard glass wine thief, about 12 inches long, to pull samples from by carboys.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
5,323
Reaction score
7,537
Location
O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
I have my MLF going in six gallon carboys. When taking a sample to see how things are progressing, do I need to dig deep into the carboy for the sample or can I take it off the top.

Also, if MLF is happening, you should be GENTLY stirring your wine every so often, just to keep everything in suspension. My general process is to stir, then take my samples, so top, bottom, middle, should all be about the same.
 

wineview

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
362
Also, if MLF is happening, you should be GENTLY stirring your wine every so often, just to keep everything in suspension. My general process is to stir, then take my samples, so top, bottom, middle, should all be about the same.
Can I consider MLF to be complete at a ph of 3.7?
 

wineview

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
362
Nope. If you don't have a test kit give it time held about 70 degrees so it will finish. If it is too cool it may stop and then restart when its warm. I would buy a chromatography kit and test to be sure.
It’s in a warm environment and I plan to leave it in MLF for several months.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
5,323
Reaction score
7,537
Location
O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
Can I consider MLF to be complete at a ph of 3.7?

The change in PH is not an indication of completeness and how much change you get depends on how much malic acid you started with. That's something you don't know unless you send a sample out for complete analysis. The only definitive way to know if all the malic acid has been converted is to measure it, either with chromotography, malic acid test strips, or again that complete analysis from a lab.
 

wineview

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
362
The change in PH is not an indication of completeness and how much change you get depends on how much malic acid you started with. That's something you don't know unless you send a sample out for complete analysis. The only definitive way to know if all the malic acid has been converted is to measure it, either with chromotography, malic acid test strips, or again that complete analysis from a lab.
Do you have a link for the malic acid test strips that you use? There seem to be a lot of choices and price differences out there which makes it very confusing.
Thanks
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
5,323
Reaction score
7,537
Location
O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
Do you have a link for the malic acid test strips that you use? There seem to be a lot of choices and price differences out there which makes it very confusing.
Thanks

These are the ones that I have used - Accuvin Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) Test Kit (0-500 mg/L Malic Acid): Home Brewing And Wine Making Equipment: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

If you choose to go this route. I do, so I don't have the extra chemicals to deal with. I suggest that folks do not try to use them to say I have XX mg/L of malic acid, just to say, YES/NO MLF has started and then completed. I take a test before I start MLF, write down the approximate amount of malic acid. Then one after one month or so, check is the amount less than the time before. Finally one after about three months or so and usually it is all gone or nearly so, then I wait another month before adding SO2, just because.
 

DaveMcC

Escaping the prison of past and future with wine.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
92
Location
Upstate South Carolina
The other thing you need to pay attention to is the SO2 level. In order for MLF to complete, you need to hold off on adding additional SO2 as that will stop the fermentation. But, that leaves the wine susceptible to spoilage from other bacteria. My current vintage completed AF a bit over a week ago and is undergoing MLF with CO2 blanket in covered food grade plastic barrels, on the skins (extended maceration) for another week. I will run a chromatography test at the end of next week to see where it is at and may press and add sulfite if complete. Like cmason1957 said above, the chromatography is a qualitative test that tells you if MLF has not happened yet, still is happening, or has (mostly) completed.
 

wineview

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
362
These are the ones that I have used - Accuvin Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) Test Kit (0-500 mg/L Malic Acid): Home Brewing And Wine Making Equipment: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

If you choose to go this route. I do, so I don't have the extra chemicals to deal with. I suggest that folks do not try to use them to say I have XX mg/L of malic acid, just to say, YES/NO MLF has started and then completed. I take a test before I start MLF, write down the approximate amount of malic acid. Then one after one month or so, check is the amount less than the time before. Finally one after about three months or so and usually it is all gone or nearly so, then I wait another month before adding SO2, just because.
[/QUOTE
The other thing you need to pay attention to is the SO2 level. In order for MLF to complete, you need to hold off on adding additional SO2 as that will stop the fermentation. But, that leaves the wine susceptible to spoilage from other bacteria. My current vintage completed AF a bit over a week ago and is undergoing MLF with CO2 blanket in covered food grade plastic barrels, on the skins (extended maceration) for another week. I will run a chromatography test at the end of next week to see where it is at and may press and add sulfite if complete. Like cmason1957 said above, the chromatography is a qualitative test that tells you if MLF has not happened yet, still is happening, or has (mostly) completed.
 

wineview

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
362
Since I'm into MLF approaching three weeks, I will get the strips and test in another three to four weeks. I have the carboys in a rigged tent with an oil filled electric radiator to keep it warm. You can see the thermometer reads 77*, the strip on the carboy at 73*-75*. When I dip my probe thermometer into the carboy, it reads around 69*. I have them topped off as much as possible. Trying to take all the precautions. Planning on getting a small camping tent for ease of use.

caboy.jpg
 

DaveMcC

Escaping the prison of past and future with wine.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
92
Location
Upstate South Carolina
I use that exact same kit. They provide plenty of the Whatman paper (like blotter paper), but the developer solution, I estimate, is good for about 20 tests.
It seems a bit pricey at first, but once you get the hang of running the chromatography, it really can provide a level of confidence in knowing if MLF has happened (or not). Here's one I ran in January of this year to check last year's vintage. It showed me that the two Zinfandel batches (Z1 and Z2) had not completed yet as the Malic acid spots show. Malbec (M1 and M2) and the Cab were finished as only the Lactic acid was observable on the print.
 

Attachments

  • 2021-01-15 10.22.58-3.jpg
    2021-01-15 10.22.58-3.jpg
    1.3 MB · Views: 20

wineview

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
362
I use that exact same kit. They provide plenty of the Whatman paper (like blotter paper), but the developer solution, I estimate, is good for about 20 tests.
It seems a bit pricey at first, but once you get the hang of running the chromatography, it really can provide a level of confidence in knowing if MLF has happened (or not). Here's one I ran in January of this year to check last year's vintage. It showed me that the two Zinfandel batches (Z1 and Z2) had not completed yet as the Malic acid spots show. Malbec (M1 and M2) and the Cab were finished as only the Lactic acid was observable on the print.
Truth be told, your photo is a bit fuzzy and all the samples look the same. Maybe I just don't know what I am looking for.
 

Latest posts

Top