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Old 09-22-2008, 11:43 PM   #1
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Default Fresh grape juice questions

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I'd wait to oak if you are using oak chips or some other oaking method other then powder. For my Merlots,Cabs, and pino noir's I like medium toast french oak. For big Zinfandels I use American oak. I usually wait until my third racking, the first racking being from primary, I let the wine clear well for at least a month with each racking if not longer. I steam my chips in a steamer basket for 10 minutes to get rid of the more bitter tannins (I dont boil like EC Kraus says) I start with 2oz except for my pinos I start with one ounce. I taste it with my wine theif every week or two and add more or rack it off if it's the flavor I like. You can always add and its hard to subtract so I prefer to go slow unless you like the taste of plywood in your wine. Good luck, Ken
Mod edit- This thread is broken off of another thread. Due to my thread hijack, I thought it would be better to start a new thread with the specific issues address.

Great advice- thanks so much! It's always nice to hear from personal experience.

When do you start the MLF process? Do you innoculate with the culture right away?

Fresh grapes and juices are impossible to get here, but I'm hoping to find some next year when I travel downstate.
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Old 09-23-2008, 06:07 PM   #2
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Yooper, when you coming down? The guy in Detroit lowers his prices as the season goes on and his juices are still in his coolers. I bought some in June $49 per pail, when they were delivered in Sept prior they were $60 to $65 per pail. I was worried that they were in his coolers that long but my friends who sampled it thought it was great when it was finished. The problem is as the juice warms the natural yeast will become more active so I'd bring a big cooler that will hold the pails and keep them cold until you get back home. The buckets have a small grommet on top to let the gases escape but from travel a bit of wine can leak out if the juice warms up so I'b bring a pickup or some big plastic bags to wrap them in, I havent tried MLF yet, I read about it alot and most books and sites say its too inconsistent for the home wine maker to do. The wine turns out just great without the bacteria. As a matter of fact my neighbor and I swapped some bottles last night to try each others and they were great, Ken

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Old 09-23-2008, 09:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by KENfromMI View Post
Yooper, when you coming down? The guy in Detroit lowers his prices as the season goes on and his juices are still in his coolers. I bought some in June $49 per pail, when they were delivered in Sept prior they were $60 to $65 per pail. I was worried that they were in his coolers that long but my friends who sampled it thought it was great when it was finished. The problem is as the juice warms the natural yeast will become more active so I'd bring a big cooler that will hold the pails and keep them cold until you get back home. The buckets have a small grommet on top to let the gases escape but from travel a bit of wine can leak out if the juice warms up so I'b bring a pickup or some big plastic bags to wrap them in, I havent tried MLF yet, I read about it alot and most books and sites say its too inconsistent for the home wine maker to do. The wine turns out just great without the bacteria. As a matter of fact my neighbor and I swapped some bottles last night to try each others and they were great, Ken
I don't know when I'll be down for sure- I haven't even made my plans for Christmas this year, let alone next fall!

Thanks for the info. I asked about MLF because in my fresh grape wine (from a friend's non-wine grapes) I innoculated it after fermentation- it was sooo harsh with malic acid. One of my concerns is that MLF can begin in the bottle, if not done prior to that. Has that not been your experience?
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:55 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
I asked about MLF because in my fresh grape wine (from a friend's non-wine grapes) I innoculated it after fermentation- it was sooo harsh with malic acid. One of my concerns is that MLF can begin in the bottle, if not done prior to that. Has that not been your experience?
Yooper, I know a lot of home winemakers who do indeed innoculate their wines with Malolactic cultures. These packets of MLF bacteria are sold by a lot of LHBS like Northern Brewer and are readily available to home wine makers.

I live in an area where fresh grapes and juice, other than the Midwestern hybrids that I don't care for, are hard to come by. I've ordered very high quality frozen juice pails but they've been white varieties that don't benefit from MLF. The suppliers of these frozen musts always recommend MLF for most reds and a couple of whites.

Also, the top grape suppliers recommend inducing MLF to, as you pointed out, lower the acidity, replace the fruitiness with a deeper and more complex flavor profile, and add stability and cellaring life to a wine. You can read the recommendations supplied with grapes and frozen pails for specific varieties from one of the most respected supplier of quality grapes and frozen must - Brehm Vineyards:

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Harvested 10/17/06. small berries, berries have integrity, no rot. Stir well, critical to mix and check brix and pH - it will vary!! Above 25.2°brix add acidulated water. Recommend addtion of 20 grams (3/4 oz.) tartaric acid per 5 gallon pail. Grape must REQUIRES 2 additions of yeast food: 1) once fermentation starts, 2) at 12° brix. Use D254, DV10, Bordeaux or Pasteur Red yeast. Ferment up to 85° in cap, punch down often, long skin contact is O.K. Do malolactic fermentation. Obtain an accurate pH of wine, get an enzymatic test for malic acid to verify Malolactic completion. Add SO2 after ML based on pH (estimate about 70ppm). Egg white fine if tannic. Try French oak cubes or barrel. Blend with 35% Carneros or Suscole Merlot. Less of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Syrah. Don’t hide the old vine’s rich character.
Here's an excellent primer on MLF from EC Kraus.
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Old 09-23-2008, 11:32 PM   #5
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Here's an excellent primer on MLF from EC Kraus.
I've read that primer before, but it always helps to read it again! I used the wyeast MLF culture for this batch, and it made a positive difference in the wine. One reason I always thought of it as a "must" (get it- must? never mind) is because I read somewhere that MLF may start spontaneous in the bottle, if not completed before bottling.

When I get the chance to get fresh pails, I will definitely grab some. I'd love to give it a try!
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:49 AM   #6
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When I get the chance to get fresh pails, I will definitely grab some. I'd love to give it a try!
You won't regret it!
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Old 09-26-2008, 09:54 PM   #7
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Sumersolstice, What do you do different with MLF with juice over grapes? Also I saw EC Kraus sells the bacteria, they also have an article with reasons about home wine makers not needing to use it. Even one of their customer service reps I called had similar comments about having more chances of ruining your wine with it then getting it right at home etc. Could it be I use carboys and not wooden barrels? I might give it a try some day but for right now everything tastes and looks great. Can you recommend which juice company reccomends it? I'd like to ask them a few questions before trying it, right now for my cost of $2 to $3 per bottle with the fresh juice that compares to $15 bottles at the store isn't too bad though, Thanks in advance, Ken

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