Will MLF help my acidic wine

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BMarNJ

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I just pressed my chilean cab sav grapes (one lug in a 6 gallon juice pail) after the primary fermentation seemed stalled at -1 brix. pH is 3.35 and TA is 8.25 and the taste reflects those values. The first sip is very acidic, but with the second sip you can taste the fruit and the smell is fruity. I’m going to start MLF after it all settles a bit and I move it to a carboy tomorrow.
Will MLF make enough difference to bring these numbers (and taste) in line?

Initial pH was 3.92, TA was 3 so I added tartaric acid.
Pre fermentation, after tartaric - brix was 22, pH was 3.58 and TA was 5.25
What caused the big rise in acid during the primary? Should I do anything before MLF?
Thanks for any insight.
 

Johnd

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I just pressed my chilean cab sav grapes (one lug in a 6 gallon juice pail) after the primary fermentation seemed stalled at -1 brix. pH is 3.35 and TA is 8.25 and the taste reflects those values. The first sip is very acidic, but with the second sip you can taste the fruit and the smell is fruity. I’m going to start MLF after it all settles a bit and I move it to a carboy tomorrow.
Will MLF make enough difference to bring these numbers (and taste) in line?

Initial pH was 3.92, TA was 3 so I added tartaric acid.
Pre fermentation, after tartaric - brix was 22, pH was 3.58 and TA was 5.25
What caused the big rise in acid during the primary? Should I do anything before MLF?
Thanks for any insight.
Hard to say why you got those readings pre fermentation, but they could be more accurate than the ones you are getting right now. pH readings are distorted when CO2 is still present in the wine, and the taste is also distorted. Before you come to any conclusions about what the actual pH and TA are, make sure you are testing properly, warm up and degas a small amount of wine to use for your tests, then you'll get good results.

If you indeed find that the post fermentation pH is lower and TA is higher than your adjusted numbers, then you probably didn't mix the acid into the must well enough prior to testing after your acid addition.

As for MLF, yes, it will smooth out your wine and mellow the sharp malic bite you may sense, it should also raise your pH and lower yourTA. Go ahead and pitch your MLB as soon as you rack off of the gross lees (usually 3 days after pressing), make sure to rehydrate it properly and use both ActiML and OptiMalo, and don't add any sulfites to your wine until you have confirmed that MLF is complete.
 

berrycrush

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MLF will raise the PH a little, but the biggest impact is the mouth feel, it will take the edge off the acid.
 

BMarNJ

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Hard to say why you got those readings pre fermentation, but they could be more accurate than the ones you are getting right now. pH readings are distorted when CO2 is still present in the wine, and the taste is also distorted. Before you come to any conclusions about what the actual pH and TA are, make sure you are testing properly, warm up and degas a small amount of wine to use for your tests, then you'll get good results.

If you indeed find that the post fermentation pH is lower and TA is higher than your adjusted numbers, then you probably didn't mix the acid into the must well enough prior to testing after your acid addition.

As for MLF, yes, it will smooth out your wine and mellow the sharp malic bite you may sense, it should also raise your pH and lower yourTA. Go ahead and pitch your MLB as soon as you rack off of the gross lees (usually 3 days after pressing), make sure to rehydrate it properly and use both ActiML and OptiMalo, and don't add any sulfites to your wine until you have confirmed that MLF is complete.
Thanks Johnd. Maybe their is hope for this (my first) batch. I did degas (stirred the sample with a fork for a bit and let in sit), but didn’t warm it. But, in the end it is the harsh acid taste that scares me.
I bought the Wyeast liquid malo bacteria and the acti-ml, but I’m not sure what to do with the acti-ml since the instructions on the liquid malo bacteria says to just pour it in and stir (no rehydration). Do you think I should mix the 2 together for a bit before stirring in? Others had the question on the MoreWine site, but there is no answer.
 

cmason1957

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Not John, but what I would do is add the appropriate amount of acti-ml straight to you wine, stir. Then add the Wyeast liquid malo and say a prayer or four to the wine gods. I haven't ever used that and the folks I have heard use it don't report great results. It does say good down to 55 F, the killer part is often the free/bound SO2 level, there has to be none added, I believe for it to work. Again, I may be wrong and I hope I am.
 

Johnd

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Ouch, Craig is right, the Wyeast stuff has gotten some pretty rough reviews, but give it a shot..
 

BMarNJ

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Ouch, Craig is right, the Wyeast stuff has gotten some pretty rough reviews, but give it a shot..
Thanks, and thanks to you @cmason1957 I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Lots for me to learn about this. I didn’t expect much this first go... was hoping for “second bottle of the night” quality at best..
 

Chuck E

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The popular VP41 and CH16 MLB's are on the expensive side. Do you guys buy it in bulk?
 

stickman

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I also agree with Craig, low sulfite tolerance is an issue, but also note that the Wyeast cultures are liquid and therefore more sensitive than the typical freeze dried products. The mfg indicates a 6 month life at 34F to 40F, so check the date on the package. The temperature during storage and shipping also has to be considered. Depending on business, some LHB shops can have products on the shelf for a long time. The product "should" work if the above issues are controlled.
 

BMarNJ

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My package has a mfg date of 3/25/19, so hopefully its OK. Both reviews on morewine gave it 5 stars, so I will hope for the best, and I can report back. Thanks for all of the good advice.
 

Johnd

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The popular VP41 and CH16 MLB's are on the expensive side. Do you guys buy it in bulk?
No, but I tend to do quantities in line with the volume the small pack handles, 66 gallons, then it only costs about 50 cents per gallon......
 

Johnd

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My package has a mfg date of 3/25/19, so hopefully its OK. Both reviews on morewine gave it 5 stars, so I will hope for the best, and I can report back. Thanks for all of the good advice.
Next time around, consider coinoculation with your MLB, especially for Chileans, the grapes are shipped packed with SO2 pads, and some gets bound, which can stop the process.
 

BMarNJ

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Thanks @Johnd, I didn’t realize that about the grapes from Chile, though I did see the padded paper on top of the box that was there as a preservative. Even the juice pail says it contains sulfites (along with tartaric acid, wine yeast and tannins). Juice pail says its packaged by The Wine Village in Ontario, a long route from Chile to Canada to Gino Pinto in NJ.
If I get fall juice and grapes from California, will I have the same issue?
The morewine manual and another book i have both warn against coinoculation because the yeasts compete... but if I did that, do you skip the initial SO2 addition to the must prior to fermentation?
 

Johnd

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Thanks @Johnd, I didn’t realize that about the grapes from Chile, though I did see the padded paper on top of the box that was there as a preservative. Even the juice pail says it contains sulfites (along with tartaric acid, wine yeast and tannins). Juice pail says its packaged by The Wine Village in Ontario, a long route from Chile to Canada to Gino Pinto in NJ.
If I get fall juice and grapes from California, will I have the same issue?
The morewine manual and another book i have both warn against coinoculation because the yeasts compete... but if I did that, do you skip the initial SO2 addition to the must prior to fermentation?
It really depends upon your supply chain. I live in south Louisiana, a long way from the west coast, my California grapes are delivered to a winery a few hours away in a refrigerated truck, no sulfite pads. That fruit is picked, loaded, and shipped, so it’s only on the road a few days. Not a luxury for grapes from other continents. Check with your supplier, but I’d suspect that it’s pretty likely that you can get US grapes fresh, no sulfites, but ask the question!!
 

salcoco

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your error is the numbers prefermentation. a ta of 3 does not correlate to a ph of 3.92 and you probable ended up adding acid when you should not have. I would double check your chemicals and your test method to insure accuracy. good luck on MLF. if still acid after MLF do some cold stabilization and acid will drop out without major affect to ph. keep tasting better than measurements.
 

Johnd

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your error is the numbers prefermentation. a ta of 3 does not correlate to a ph of 3.92 and you probable ended up adding acid when you should not have. I would double check your chemicals and your test method to insure accuracy. good luck on MLF. if still acid after MLF do some cold stabilization and acid will drop out without major affect to ph. keep tasting better than measurements.
I'm not sure we're on the same page here, a TA of 3 (which I'm assuming is 3 g / L, about half the 6 g /L I'd like to see before pitching yeast) is pretty low in acid, a lack of acid, which corresponds to a high pH, which 3.92 certainly is on the scale of desirability for wine. What makes you say that these two indicators of low acidity don't correlate???
 

salcoco

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the number should have way above 4. I am not commenting on the desirability of the numbers but there correlation an acid of 3 should be a ph of 4++. therefore I question the accuracy of the numbers. as noted when finished he had a ph of 3.35 and an acid of 8.85 better correlation. just suggesting double check measurement tools.
 

Johnd

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the number should have way above 4. I am not commenting on the desirability of the numbers but there correlation an acid of 3 should be a ph of 4++. therefore I question the accuracy of the numbers. as noted when finished he had a ph of 3.35 and an acid of 8.85 better correlation. just suggesting double check measurement tools.
OK, so you're just saying that you think the pH should have been even higher than 3.92, that makes more sense.
 

mainshipfred

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I never used Wyeyeast liquid MLB but have used White Labs with no success. White Labs posts their tolerance to SO2 at 10ppm, I'm assuming free. Wyeyeast, as far as I can tell, has no information on their SO2 tolerance. FWIW my unsuccessful attempts with the White Labs was Chilean juice and My preferred MLB is MBR 31.
 

BABRU

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I really enjoy reading the experienced giving advice to the novice but I wonder why first time winemakers work so hard at what should be a very easy and fun hobby. I’ve been making wine now for about 8 years, first was 6 gallon from 24 pounds of black raspberries, then cheap WE fruity kits tweaked with grape concentrate and sugar, then fresh juice buckets, mid-range kits tweaked with 8 pounds of black raspberries and high end kits not tweaked at all. Probably made more than 300 gallons so far plus 36 gallons currently bulk aging. All of these wines have been excellent, far surpassing $20 commercial wines, and never have I worried about going to the trouble of MLF, unless it is occurring by accident by extended time in primary or during bulk aging if that is possible. If a wine doesn’t taste quite right at first I just let it sit in the bottle until I feel like trying it again. It always comes around eventually. Unfortunately I have been unable too keep very much in the bottle for more than 5 years! I’m not trying to be negative; and I’m sure commercial wineries want to know exactly that they will get the result they expect; just saying that the beginner who works too hard at trying to make the “perfect” wine might get discouraged when it can be so very simple to make a very good wine.
 
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