Many wineries find it affordable and convenient to monitor malolactic fermentation (MLF) progression through paper chromatography. However, to ensure that your MLF is completed, it is best to use enzymatic analysis to determine the concentration of malic acid and lactic acid in your wine.
Even when using commercial strains of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), MLF can offer several challenges to winemakers.
A stuck MLF can be a difficult winemaking situation. Wines are usually left unprotected with very little sulfur dioxide in the wine. Additionally, wines are usually maintained within the ideal LAB growing temperature, around 68°F. However, this warmer temperature is also ideal for a number of potential spoilage microorganisms to grow. Warm temperatures and a lack of adequate antimicrobial protection offer ideal conditions for growth of spoilage microorganisms.
Now is the time when winemakers acknowledge that MLF may be stuck. While many winemakers may quickly reach to re-inoculate a tank or barrel with MLB, I’d recommend avoiding this strategy as a first step. Many of the suppliers have indicated that over-inoculation of MLB strains can actually lead to more problems in your wine without actually solving your problem or re-starting a stuck MLF. (This is important advice, as the suppliers make more money off of new MLB purchases.)
“The Dot Races: Best Ways to Know MLF is Complete” covers:
- A more detailed review of paper chromatography
- A discussion on enzymatic analysis
- Monitoring MLF procedures
- Re-starting a stuck MLF
Video length: 46 minutes…