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Old 07-27-2011, 04:02 AM   #1
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Default Malolactic fermenation for plum wine?

This is related to my earlier post about the taste of the wine after primary fermentation. Should I consider using malolactic fermentation on a plum wine? I read conflicting views. Some say don't do it on a fruit wine. Others say plums have a high malic acid content and are candidates for MLF.

I'm trying to improve a rather harsh taste present at the end of primary fermentation. Should I consider MLF or should I do something else?

thx,
feffer

P.S. once I get this into secondary, I won't pester the forum so much, but for now I really appreciate it.

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Old 07-27-2011, 08:09 AM   #2
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There are a few considerations. What is the pH? If the pH is already high (over 3.6) then you wouldn't really want a MLF. Have you added SO2 (camden) since primary finished? SO2 will inhibit MLF. Does your wine have that sour malic acid taste? A lot of sour candy uses malic acid to give sourness. Get some candy with malic acid on the ingredient list and compare it to your wine. If wine is high in malic acid and low in SO2 it will probably go through a wild MLF as it ages. Otherwise time will help remove harshness.

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Old 07-27-2011, 04:51 PM   #3
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The pH is low, unfortunately my test strips have a medium range 4.0 to 5.8. They always show bright orange-yellow, the lowest reading. I haven't used campden tabs yet. I'll try to get some candy as you suggest, because I don't know what to look for in the taste. I have three 5 gal primaries going and 2 of them will be fermented "dry." I'm thinking of doing an MLF on one of the dry ones. Any reasons not to?

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Old 08-03-2011, 05:22 PM   #4
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MLF only works on malic acid; there is very little malic acid in plums. I've fermented a few plums & I can tell you, they have quite a bit of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), but very little or no malic. I've used 71-B on plums (prunes) and have had NO DISCERNABLE ACID REDUCTION. 71-B yeast actually does metabolize some malic acid, but not as much as MLF does.

I honestly think MLF for a plum wine is a waste of time, money & resources. Your best bet is to let time work for you, plum wine takes a bit longer to mature. Those harsh notes will age out in time. I had some plum wine that tasted a lot like fuel for a while, but it's aged out very nicely & after a year, it's pretty darned smooth.
Regards, GF.

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Old 08-04-2011, 09:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gratus fermentatio View Post
I honestly think MLF for a plum wine is a waste of time, money & resources. Your best bet is to let time work for you, plum wine takes a bit longer to mature. Those harsh notes will age out in time. I had some plum wine that tasted a lot like fuel for a while, but it's aged out very nicely & after a year, it's pretty darned smooth.
Regards, GF.
I had already started an MLF on one batch. You're probably right about it being a waste of time/money. In any case, I'll be able to compare it to the other two non-MLF batches. I did get some more range appropriate pH strips and get a reading of 3.4. Did your plum wine mellow out after a few rackings or after being bottled?
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:38 PM   #6
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Experimenting is all part of the homebrew experience. I am interested in your MLF results.

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Old 11-17-2011, 04:19 PM   #7
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I am also interested in the MLF results from the plum wine. Please keep us posted.

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Old 11-18-2011, 05:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
I honestly think MLF for a plum wine is a waste of time, money & resources. Your best bet is to let time work for you, plum wine takes a bit longer to mature. Those harsh notes will age out in time. I had some plum wine that tasted a lot like fuel for a while, but it's aged out very nicely & after a year, it's pretty darned smooth.
Regards, GF.
I started an MLF on one 5 gal batch at the end of July. It is now mid-November and that batch has fully fermented and was racked twice. I can discern NO taste difference between it and the 2 batches that were not given MLF. The MLF yeast cost about $15 at my LHBS. I do not have the tools to test whether the MLF had an affect or even became active. It was an experiment, and for my part I probably won't use MLF for my non-grape wines again. On the other hand, GF is definitely correct about time having a good effect on plum wine. My batch from the previous year has really become nice!
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feffer View Post
I started an MLF on one 5 gal batch at the end of July. It is now mid-November and that batch has fully fermented and was racked twice. I can discern NO taste difference between it and the 2 batches that were not given MLF. The MLF yeast cost about $15 at my LHBS. I do not have the tools to test whether the MLF had an affect or even became active. It was an experiment, and for my part I probably won't use MLF for my non-grape wines again. On the other hand, GF is definitely correct about time having a good effect on plum wine. My batch from the previous year has really become nice!
MLF is valuable for malic-heavy fruits. For example, apples. Sometimes a very sharp apple wine can become softer and better with MLF, although with time most apple wines are still nice without it.

I like MLF in grape wines usually, but I don't always do MLF even on those! It really depends on the wine.

My plum wine was very sharp 6 months ago, but is now a very nice blush wine (the flesh was brown- looked a little like it was going to be very ugly!) and in another year it should be a nice table wine. Often, time will fix flavors so well that I'm hesitant to do anything with many of the wines! If the wine is "flabby", it's easy enough to add a little acid or tannin. But otherwise, it seems like the best fix is time.
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