The rewards and frustrations of home winemaking

Splash Racking the Merlots

The merlot has been on my mind.  I’m bothered that the MLF didn’t finish, although the MLF in the barrel batch did not complete either.  But, since the Cab MLF went great, I feel like there should be something proactive I can and should do to try to make it work.  I’m worried that it won’t be stable, or worse, that after it is bottled the little buggers will wake up and the bottles might explode.  Not having done this much (ever?), I have no idea if that is a silly worry or not.  I’ve been trying to research it, but can’t get a good conclusion.   In the meantime, I got some more dried malolactic bacteria from my friend, and some nutrient.  His MLF finished in his merlot, so I thought maybe it was the bacteria I used.  I’m still not in an optimal situation, because the bacteria is not fresh, and it is much more finicky than yeast when it comes to returning to life again.  I just wanted to have it in case I could try to start it again.

One thing I do need to do is give my home wines a little more oxygen, since the carboys don’t “breathe” like the barrel does.  So, when I racked them off today I splash racked, making sure the wine splashed around a good bit instead of being careful to make it go down the side of the carboy.  I actually got a little overzealous and accidentally splashed it all over my leg at one point.  Oops.

I tested the Free SO2 with a color-changing tube quick test, which again was difficult to interpret.

SO2 test

Both lots seem to be about 28 ppm free SO2, which is definitely too high to try to start MLF again.  The splash racking should also help bring the free SO2 down so I can try again later.  In the meantime, I tasted some of the wine I *didn’t* splash all over my leg.  They are both tasting good, and lot B is still much fruitier than lot A.  I left the oak in both of them again, they’re not quite oaky enough for me.

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