Monday, October 18, 2010

MLF!

The wine is now ready to undergo Malolactic fermentation.  It's not really fermentation as it is conversion.   You are converting malic acid to lactic acid.  Relieving some of the harshness and creating a smoother wine.  Hopefully you'll be adding back a little flavor and tannin, though, when you age your wine in oak.  Oak cubes, columns, chips or barrels.

Before you add your malolactic bacteria, you will want to test to see how much malic acid your wine has.  The best way I know to do this is with test strips from Accuvin (www.accuvin.com).  You place a small amount of wine on the padded side, let it soak in, then 5 mins later flip over the test strip and compare it to the chart on the bottle.

My wine in this case has malic acid content of about 325 mg/L.  The reason you test is mainly to see how much you started with but an even more important test is in a few months when you feel the MLF is done.  Your malic levels will obviously be closer to 0.  At that point you can add SO2 to the wine to help preserve it, and then put it in the barrel or add the chips or whatever your method of oaking will be.

If you add SO2 now, it could inhibit your MLF process.

The pictures below show the malic test strip kit and the MLF bacteria we use.   When adding the MLF, you don't really have to hydrate first.  Just add it in.  I prefer the powder/packet to the liquid because it has a little longer shelf life (and is a little cheaper.)

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