Acid Test.

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Becks the Elder

Country Wines.
Feb 23, 2009
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On an earlier discussion on my planned Elderberry Wine Luc observed that I would probably only need to add citric acid to my recipe but that I may find that it is not necessary to add any at all.

In preparation for starting my batch this weekend I started to go into titration and acid levels a little more so I had an idea of what I was doing. I have been reading Jack Keller's website page (among others) about acidity in wines and there he asserts that "Citric acid added to a must before fermentation will largely be lost during fermentation. Thus, it is best to add it after all signs of fermentation have disappeared."

So, what I need to know is this;

If citric acid is needed, and I add it after fermentation has stopped, when should I conduct the acid test? Should I test the must and then adjust post fermentation or conduct the acid test and make any required acid adjustments after fermentation has stopped?

Secondly, it seems that if a 0.1% TA increase can be achieved by adding 3.7 grams of citric acid to a gallon of must (Keller), does the same ratio apply if it is added to wine post fermentation?

Apologies if these questions seem rather stupid but I have no personal experience to draw.

Thanks for all the helpful posts I've read and received so far. I'm getting there... slowly. :)
I make the acid adjustments to the must before adding the yeast. The idea is to create a low-pH environment that yeast don't mind but that bacteria and other life-forms don't like. A low pH environment may also help with flavour extraction during fermentation.

Initial pH and TA of the must become important records to keep, because I find they do affect the outcome, perhaps by affecting the balance of fermentation byproducts (I'm guessing here). Once fermentation is complete, I do my tests again and adjust the acid levels once more if necessary.
Thanks Skyhawk. I'll give that a go.

One other thing though.

It's taken me quite a while but as far as I can tell I need about 3.8g of citric acid to the Imp. Gallon (4.5ltrs) to raise the wine or must by 0.1% TA can anyone confirm this figure?

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However, Keller asserts that "a 0.1% TA increase can be achieved by adding 4.1 grams of tartaric acid or 3.7 grams of either malic acid or citric acid to a gallon of must."

I'd go with the above figures for acid adjustments when required. Keep in mind that one level teaspoon of acid is about 5 grams. It doesn't have to be an exact science, but I usually retest both pH and TA after adjusting the acidity.

Out of curiosity, why have you decided on citric acid to adjust an elderberry?
I had thought about using an acid blend but was advised to use citric acid instead on the "Intended Recipe and Method. Elderberry Wine" post. It's all new to me so I'm really relying heavily on the advice of others. I don't have the experience to make any informed decisions and as I keep looking for answers to questions I seem to always find contradicting advice in different places. Generally I find the best advice and kindest people on this forum.

Luc said I may find that I don't need to adjust the acid content of the batch but I need to be sure of what I'm doing if I do need to make any adjustments. Your advice has been very informative. Thanks. :)
Thanks Skyhawk. I'll give that a go.

One other thing though.

It's taken me quite a while but as far as I can tell I need about 3.8g of citric acid to the Imp. Gallon (4.5ltrs) to raise the wine or must by 1% TA can anyone confirm this figure?


This is a tricky one.
I did an essay on my web-log once about the different
acids. You can find it here:

Now citric acid is stronger as tartaric acid which is the standard acid on which all acids are compared against over here.

The packaging says 8,5 gram citric acid in 10 liter will raise the acidity with 1 gram per liter.
So in 4.5 liter it will take 4.5 / 10 x 8.5 = 3.8 gram citric acid just like you said.

So that figure is right.


I was just curious about the choice of citric acid, since it really comes down to a matter of taste. Tartaric acid, malic acid, and citric acid all taste very different from each other.

I wouldn't use an "acid blend" or malic acid for adjusting a fruit wine unless I was going to do an MLF. Malic acid left in wine means you have to take extra care to stablize it and ensure MLF isn't going to start in the bottle. Plus I personally don't care much for the taste of malic acid.

High tannin, full, dry elderberry is very close to grape, and for that reason I've always used tartaric acid when adjusting this type of wine - regardless if citric acid is the principal acid in elderberries or not. In lower tannin aromatic whites that are usually not aged much such as peach wine, I've always used citric. It's just a matter of personal preference, and I doubt there is any "correct" acid to use in any case.

And as Luc said, you may not need to make an acid adjustment at all. Usually with fruit wines, it's the high acid content that limits the amount of fruit we can use.
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I adjust before fermentation so that the yeast is happy and then again after so thats its balanced correctly as acid will burn off slightly depending on how vigorous a fermentation you have.
OK guys, that's great - two acid tests it is! Todays the day it kicks off, thanks for all the help, wish me luck!

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