Beginner Winemaker - Some insights

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Mar 5, 2024
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Hello all -

Just a little background. I'm at an home wine maker lover, i've recently graduated from making country style wines and started making wines from frozen grapes/juice. I'm familiar with wine making processes, so i'm not going to ask about that. I have made some cabernet, malbec, and some other whites from frozen must/juice.

My question is that, I've just ordered a shipment of Viognier frozen juice (6 gallon) from Walla Walla Valley. The provided stats shows - PH - 3.47 and a TA of 5 g/L. Of course, I will test it when I recieve it. However, I'm not sure what the general target is for viognier wines. I'd like some insights from some other experienced members here on what may be the ideal target PH/TA based on current PH/TA levels. As for my amature opinion, I think this is a good range, i'd maybe push the TA up to 6ish and as such, bring the PH down to somehwere between 3.3-3.4. I enjoy a touch of acid in my viognier, but not too much. Any insights/acid addition math would be appreciated.

I'm very excited to make this wine, I like a nice aromatic and fresh viognier with some body, as such, I may sur-lie this for maybe up to 4 months to get some out of it.
Welcome to WMT. Sounds like you are well on your way in this hobby.

I don't have experience with Viognier, so I can't give you concrete numbers, I would think a bit more acidic (3.3-3.2) is where I like most white wines. Can't comment on the TA level to shoot for as I don't measure that with anything other than my taste buds. I don't try to hit magic numbers for things. If it tastes good, is what I shoot for and I know I like whites a bit brighter and tarter. Sur-lie aging along with some stirring (battonage might be the proper word) helps all white wines, is my opinion.
I also like my whites a little crisper and I feel anything under 3.5 is perfectly fine. I feel whites generally benefit from a slow, cool ferment if you have the ability to do so. I've had a couple Viogniers (from grapes) that had a little hard time clearing so I might recommend adding bentonite to the ferment. Other than that, welcome and good luck.
I think this is a nice guide to pH, TA and adjustments thereof:

The rule of thumb is that 1g/L tartaric acid increases TA by 1g/L (of course!) and decreases pH by 0.1 units. But it's a bit more complicated than that due to the effects of buffering. Your numbers seem good and pretty close to what you want in the grand scheme of things, so I'd suggest going slow and stepwise: add maybe only half of the acid that you think you need, then remeasure.

Daniel Pambianchi has some useful tools for calculating how much acid to use for acidification:
Welcome to WMT

I come from a foods background so I view pH as a preservative. There are families of organisms which can not grow in reduced pH. Low pH reduces the risk of infection. Low pH is also involved in the chemistry that makes free SO2 so I like it as low as reasonable. All this is similar to the thinking one does with a low tannin country wine.

I use TA mainly for balancing the sweetness of a finished wine. This turns out to be a reasonable straight line function. BUT ,,, Grape Skin tannin as well as soft apple tannin magnify the taste of acid. So when I plot taste targets there is some noise. Tannin is an antioxidant so I add it to everything.

For where you are, the easy answer is let it alone. The complicated answer is build in more shelf life by dropping the pH slightly (TA doesn’t matter till bottling), ,,, OR build in more shelf life by adding a tannin.

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