Malolactic fermentation on a white kit wine
I'm making a 2nd batch of Coastal White and thought maybe I'd like to try a malolactic fermentation. I've read that maybe this should not be done with most kits but was wondering if its possible with this Midwest supplies kit. I'm going to oak it lightly and thought also the MF would also help smooth out taste and remove tartness. Longer aging than the kit called for removed much of this but I'd like to smooth it out and maybe move towards more complex flavours.
The link to Coastal White (White Burgundy Style) (Vintner's Reserve)
I understand the issues from several posts and articles I've read but I'm wondering how I should go about confirming the best way to approach this, if it's even possible with this kit.
If you want, you can conduct an acid test (with litmus paper).
Can you do a ML? Sure.
Will it do what you hope? I.e. smooth out the wine and create different flavors. Maybe.
As this is a kit, any acid adjustments done by the Winexpert company was probally done with tartaric acid, which won't be affected by Malolactic fermentation. There is very likely SOME malic acid in the wine, but I would guess the majority is Tartaric.
If you think the wine is too tart, try cold stabilising the wine. This will crystilize the tartaric acid, which you can then rack the wine off of.
As it is, if you do decide to do a ML, let us know how it turns out! :-)
Most kits that I know of have the acid levels adjusted so that MLF is not needed. If you did do a MLF I would suspect that you would end up with a very flat tasting wine.
I would advise against MLF with a kit.
Thank you all for your responses and it definitely aligns with the following information I recieved from the WineExpert Customer Support Team. I figured I'd share it here for anyone else to also benefit.
The addition of a malolactic bacteria to wine kits should not be attempted. This is due to the fact that most juices are tartrate-stabilized prior to concentrating or blending (this is done by storing them at freezing temperatures for one to two months, which drops out tartaric acid and potassium). Such raw materials contain a very high proportion of malic acid. Malolactic fermentation would convert this malic acid to lactic, leaving a kit with very little acid, and a pH above 3.8, leaving it flabby, soft, and very susceptible to bacterial infections. The malolactic would actually impair the flavour of the kit.
Secondly, there are some situations where a very small amount of sorbate may be present in juices or concentrates. Malolactic fermentation in the presence of sorbate yields hexadienol, otherwise known as geraniol, which produces the strong and disagreeable odor of rotting geraniumsan unfixable and highly undesirable outcome!
Third, we need to stop and think about why a winemaker uses malolactic fermentation. The technique is used to reduce acidity and increase the level of diacetyl compounds in the wine, leaving it soft, buttery and easier to drink when young. All wine kits are formulated more or less to this specification from the beginning, and don’t need to be further softened.
Interesting. I'm suprised that malic acid is the predominant acid! Now I know...
I also asked them about Oak additions and they gave a fairly comprehensive response to this too for anyone that's interested.
Wine Experts Response:
You can add it day 1 just prior to adding the yeast or if the batch has been fermenting for a while you can add it later on. When adding oak late, put the oak in the bottom of the carboy, and rack the wine onto it. Whatever you do, do not add the oak to the wine in the carboy! That makes it foam like a volcano. Be sure to put the oak in first, and then rack the wine in.
Chips are available untoasted, medium, and dark toast. The varieties are French and American wood. Which one you choose will depend on the type of wine you are oaking and the style that you are trying to emulate. The oak is spent (used up) in 5 – 6 days.
Here is information on oak:
Chips come in three forms; powder, shavings and chips. They are also available untoasted, or with a dark, light, or medium toast. Also you can choose between American and French wood. How will you decide which one you need?
Looking like little more than sawdust, oak powder is a convenient and easy way to get oak flavour and aroma into your wine. The powder is added to the wine in a measured amount, you might try about 30 grams per 23 litres of wine, before primary fermentation for a light oak intensity. The frothing and rolling action of the fermenting wine will extract almost all of the oak within one week.
The nicest thing about the powder is that it’s so convenient; throw it in before adding your yeast and then ignore it. When you rack to your secondary fermenter almost all the powder gets left behind with the yeast sediment in the bottom of the carboy. You get oak flavour, and no fuss.
Shavings and Chips
Made by pushing selected pieces of oak through a planer or a chipper, shavings and chips are in many respects similar to oak powder: no fuss or maintenance—oak flavour without the investment and worry of a barrel. The difference lies in when you use them. While powders work best if added before or during fermentation, chips work best if added after primary fermentation is ended. This means you can delay your decision to add oak until the wine is finished fermenting.
Chips are available untoasted, medium, and dark toast. The varieties are French and American wood. Which one you choose will depend on the type of wine you are oaking and the style that you are trying to emulate.
Great info. I've never seen it put so succinctly.
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