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Addition of acid in non-fruit wines

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Rappatuz

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Actually the thread should be named something like;
Addition of acid in wines which flavor contributing ingredients contain no or a negligible amount of acids

... but then no one would click 🙃

Of course, I'm talking about wines that have no "natural" source of acid (for example flower wines with no fruit). Thus, acid must be added in a powdered form.

What I don't get is the amount of powdered acid (acid blend/tartaric acid) in recipes of this type when comparing them to the typical TA range of wines (6-9 g/l). The highest concentration I'm seeing is 3 tsp. per gallon (~3,3 grams per liter), but usually it's more like 1-1/2 tsp. per gallon. According to my calculations 3 tsp. acid blend per gallon will - at the very most - get TA to 4. In most flower recipes I've seen, TA would be half of that.

Number-wise, this just seems way off. However, it must work just fine considering Jack Keller use these concentrations a lot. Help me make sense of this issue 🤔
 

BernardSmith

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I agree. Jack Keller's recipes seem to be like cook book recipes: here are the quantities you should use. But how the fruit or flowers YOU have may have different levels of sugars, different amounts of tannins, different amounts of acidity, different amounts of flavor is never part of the discussion. And then the recipes call for very small quantities of the main ingredients.

Why don't you simply bench test any flower wine you make to see how much acid the wine itself calls for? Take a few samples and add controlled amounts of acids (whether blends or specific acids) and taste. If you need more then take a few more samples and repeat the process using the first set of tests as your base line for the second set. When you know how much acid to add to make the sample taste as bright as you want it then simply divide the total volume by the sample size and multiply that number by the amount of acid you added to create the acidity you wanted.
 

stickman

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I don't make flower wines, so I have no direct experience, but I would be careful about acid additions up front before fermentation. From a chemistry point of view, when a recipe involves mostly water and sugar and a small amount of flavoring, there is very little buffering effect for pH, so adding 3.5 to 4 grams per liter of acid blend could take the pH down to 2.6 or so. As @BernardSmith indicated it obviously it depends greatly on all of the other ingredients together in the recipe. I would suggest getting the pH in a reasonable range first, stay a little conservative, and then once the fermentation is complete you can jack up the acid to your taste.

From a TA expressed as tartaric point of view, using acids other than tartaric affect the TA differently; it takes .89g/l malic acid to change the TA by 1g/l, and the same 1g/l change would take only .85g/l of citric acid. This is not a huge error, but it is something to be aware of.
 

Rappatuz

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Many folks find the recipes of Jack Keller to be under flavored. Not containing nearly the amount of fruit most of us use. I would guess the same applies to the acid added.
Maybe an under-flavored recipe easily gets overpowered by a "normal" amount of acid? Thus, the amount of acid makes sense in his recipes.

I agree. Jack Keller's recipes seem to be like cook book recipes: here are the quantities you should use. But how the fruit or flowers YOU have may have different levels of sugars, different amounts of tannins, different amounts of acidity, different amounts of flavor is never part of the discussion. And then the recipes call for very small quantities of the main ingredients.

Why don't you simply bench test any flower wine you make to see how much acid the wine itself calls for? Take a few samples and add controlled amounts of acids (whether blends or specific acids) and taste. If you need more then take a few more samples and repeat the process using the first set of tests as your base line for the second set. When you know how much acid to add to make the sample taste as bright as you want it then simply divide the total volume by the sample size and multiply that number by the amount of acid you added to create the acidity you wanted.
Well, I was kind of curious about this great deviation in acid compared to the range which is widely accepted. Why does this "work" or maybe some would say it doesn't? I was hoping someone would have answers. I like to know how stuff works because then I'll be able to use my knowledge to make better wine.

I recently started a dandelion wine with some raisins for body. I didn't follow any recipe, just trying out stuff and doing things the way it makes sense to me. I started with 2 g/l of tartaric acid but added another 0,5 g/l pretty fast. I may add more later.

MoreManuals! Winemaking Guides | MoreWine the manual have a chapter on bench trials to determine acid addition.
Very cool! I'll check it out.

I don't have a pH-meter of TA-meter as of yet, though.

I don't make flower wines, so I have no direct experience, but I would be careful about acid additions up front before fermentation. From a chemistry point of view, when a recipe involves mostly water and sugar and a small amount of flavoring, there is very little buffering effect for pH, so adding 3.5 to 4 grams per liter of acid blend could take the pH down to 2.6 or so. As @BernardSmith indicated it obviously it depends greatly on all of the other ingredients together in the recipe. I would suggest getting the pH in a reasonable range first, stay a little conservative, and then once the fermentation is complete you can jack up the acid to your taste.

From a TA expressed as tartaric point of view, using acids other than tartaric affect the TA differently; it takes .89g/l malic acid to change the TA by 1g/l, and the same 1g/l change would take only .85g/l of citric acid. This is not a huge error, but it is something to be aware of.
Good info! I recently tried to find a formula for calculating pH using tartaric acid in water, but couldn't find one. I didn't know about the buffering effect you mention, so it may be harder to calculate than expected. I may get a chemistry book at some time just to become a better wine maker.
 

salcoco

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Ph is the measurement of all acids in a wine which can include tartaric, citric , malic and lactic acid to name a few. pretty difficult to calculate ph to just tartaric element.
 

Rappatuz

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Ph is the measurement of all acids in a wine which can include tartaric, citric , malic and lactic acid to name a few. pretty difficult to calculate ph to just tartaric element.
If you add a certain amount of tartaric acid to a certain volume of water, I believe it should be possible to calculate a theoretic pH-value, although I'm no chemist.
 

stickman

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Yes you can calculate the theoretical pH of pure acid solutions of known concentration, but real world solutions like wine with various acids and salts are much more complicated. Really that was my point, when a recipe is primarily pure water and acid, the resulting pH will more closely approach the theoretical value, 1g/l tartaric acid in water will put you in the 2.7 pH range depending on the other ions present. pH meters these days are fairly economical and allow you to measure real values without having to deal with all of the chemistry. I have a chemistry background, but even I wouldn't bother with theoretical pH calculations when it comes to wine.
 

Rappatuz

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Yes you can calculate the theoretical pH of pure acid solutions of known concentration, but real world solutions like wine with various acids and salts are much more complicated. Really that was my point, when a recipe is primarily pure water and acid, the resulting pH will more closely approach the theoretical value, 1g/l tartaric acid in water will put you in the 2.7 pH range depending on the other ions present. pH meters these days are fairly economical and allow you to measure real values without having to deal with all of the chemistry. I have a chemistry background, but even I wouldn't bother with theoretical pH calculations when it comes to wine.
Thank you for good, although a bit disappointing, information (I was hoping to be able to predict/calculate pH). I guess not straying too far from tested and tried acid concentrations (for the type of wine you're making), and doing a bit of tasting is the way to go, unless you have a pH-meter, of course.
 
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