Acid testing kits

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gigles13

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So, I'm getting into fruit wine making and I've been reading about the acid kits. If you get a total acid kit, it tests tartaric acid. But isn't the acid primarily in fruit wine citric and malic acid? So, my question is, which do you guys use for fruit wine making to test acid?
 

sour_grapes

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The acid test kit tests all acids. The term "TA" generally means "titratable acid," not "tartaric acid." The confusion arises because the reported amount of acid (i.e., g/L) is calculated as if it were all tartaric acid. That is, each of the acids behaves a little differently, but the reported number is "calibrated" as if it were all all tartaric.

Bottom line: you can use the standard test for fruit wines.
 

gigles13

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The acid test kit tests all acids. The term "TA" generally means "titratable acid," not "tartaric acid." The confusion arises because the reported amount of acid (i.e., g/L) is calculated as if it were all tartaric acid. That is, each of the acids behaves a little differently, but the reported number is "calibrated" as if it were all all tartaric.

Bottom line: you can use the standard test for fruit wines.
Awesome! Thanks for the clarification!
 

gigles13

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The acid test kit tests all acids. The term "TA" generally means "titratable acid," not "tartaric acid." The confusion arises because the reported amount of acid (i.e., g/L) is calculated as if it were all tartaric acid. That is, each of the acids behaves a little differently, but the reported number is "calibrated" as if it were all all tartaric.

Bottom line: you can use the standard test for fruit wines.
Actually, I do have a secondary question: how do you know which acid to add if the wine needs it? Is it just based on whichever fruit you're adding? Or do you just add acid blend?
 

sour_grapes

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I'll step back and let a fruit winemaker give a good answer. My inexpert answer would be that it is probably best practice to use the acid that is naturally found in the fruit being used for the wine, but that using acid blend is really just fine. For grapes, I would only use tartaric myself.
 

cmason1957

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I have a made a fair number of fruit wines, so I'll jump in with my opinion, you are liable to get several. First part, in addition to the TA Test kit, you need to own a fairly good Ph meter. One that is good to 0.01 Resolution. To me the Ph of the wine is important to make certain you are in the correct range for your yeast to work. 3.2 (maybe as low as 3.0, but not much lower) up to about 3.8. Most fruits you want to start around 3.2-3.6. Also, the TA test kit depends on a color change to determine you are done. I've never done it right trying to determine the color change, but we are in luck, it happens when the ph becomes 8.2. Don't know why the instructions with the test kits don't tell you that.

For most of my wines, I measure the Ph only pre-ferment and try to get it near the range I want, experience gives you that number, but for me whiter fruits are nearer 3.2 or 3.3 and darker fruits are nearer 3.5-3.6. Then I taste, if it is flat, I add a bit more Acid, small amounts. If it is sharp, I consider removing some acid. After fermentation is complete, I worry more about the actual TA and Ph numbers. Ph needs to be known to determine how much SO2 you need to protect the wine, TA determines how it tastes.

Now what acid to add, If I can determine what acid the fruit has primarily, I'll try to add just that. If not Acid Blend. I do everything I can to avoid MLF on fruit wines, some folks do it for apple wines, but I think it loses the apple taste.
 

gigles13

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I have a made a fair number of fruit wines, so I'll jump in with my opinion, you are liable to get several. First part, in addition to the TA Test kit, you need to own a fairly good Ph meter. One that is good to 0.01 Resolution. To me the Ph of the wine is important to make certain you are in the correct range for your yeast to work. 3.2 (maybe as low as 3.0, but not much lower) up to about 3.8. Most fruits you want to start around 3.2-3.6. Also, the TA test kit depends on a color change to determine you are done. I've never done it right trying to determine the color change, but we are in luck, it happens when the ph becomes 8.2. Don't know why the instructions with the test kits don't tell you that.

For most of my wines, I measure the Ph only pre-ferment and try to get it near the range I want, experience gives you that number, but for me whiter fruits are nearer 3.2 or 3.3 and darker fruits are nearer 3.5-3.6. Then I taste, if it is flat, I add a bit more Acid, small amounts. If it is sharp, I consider removing some acid. After fermentation is complete, I worry more about the actual TA and Ph numbers. Ph needs to be known to determine how much SO2 you need to protect the wine, TA determines how it tastes.

Now what acid to add, If I can determine what acid the fruit has primarily, I'll try to add just that. If not Acid Blend. I do everything I can to avoid MLF on fruit wines, some folks do it for apple wines, but I think it loses the apple taste.
This was insanely helpful! I really appreciate a thoughtful answer. Thank you! I'm going to look into a good pH meter as well as a TA test kit.
 

Rice_Guy

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For the last 2 years I have used either acid blend or straight tartaric. The reason is my impression was that tartaric gave a more pleasing taste and was efficient at driving pH down. Of the acids at work phosphoric would be my favorite, clean flavor and efficient at moving pH. I would use citric and malic acid for sharper flavors.

I have had a home TA test kit for 10 years, basically as Craig noted phenothalen is useless for red fruit, so I wound up with the pH meter/ 8.2 endpoint. ,,, I have used traditional “bulb” pH probes since college. For small samples / titrations an Extech with a flat probe works better. ,,, the titrant is 0.2normal sodium hydroxide which is available at my beer and wine toys shop and at times I use a bottle a month ,,, I use the kit style syringes instead a of a burette.

To the question about which acid do we calculate. Your tongue doesn’t distinguish between a H+ from citric or malic or tartaric or phosphoric. It doesn’t really matter. H+ is H+

I run TA high as 1.0% and back sweeten above 1.000. You will have to balance sweet and acid flavors and if you don’t like sweet you will need a lower TA as 0.5 or 0.6%.
 

Scooter68

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All I make is fruit wine and while logic would suggest to use the same acid that is predominant in the fruit , that can end up creating issues just as Cmason stated especially with Apples. So I just use acid blend. You can add additional citric acid if that's the dominant one in the fruit but really Acid blend should work just fine.
As to your test kit... that's fine to have a test kit but if it's dependent on color readings - Personally it's a waste of time and effort. Just invest in a decent pH meter again as Cmason stated. If you still want to do TA readings you can use your pH meter for that too. Just google the words Testing TA with pH meter. You only need one chemical for that method and you aren't forced to try to go read colors with it.
 

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