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First All Grape Wine, TA/pH Question

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jsbeckton

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Initial must after crush 6 crates Chilean Merlot:

Vol=11.5 gal
SG=22 Brix
TA=0.51
PH=3.5

After adding sugar and acid blend I am now at:

Vol=11.75 gal
SG=24 Brix
TA=0.67
PH=3.3

Is this good to start fermenting or should I adjust anything else (enzymes added to work overnight)? I plan to do MLF once the cap forms, figure this will raise pH a bit but hopefully not drop TA too much.

Thanks!
 

Boatboy24

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I wouldn't adjust any further. At this point, let it be what it'll be. pH is a little low, but TA is in line - pH should come up some. I always use enzymes, but I like big, bold, dark wines.
 

CDrew

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What is "acid blend"? Adjusting the Brix sounds good.

Were these grapes picked a bit early?
 

jgmillr1

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Initial must after crush 6 crates Chilean Merlot:

Vol=11.5 gal
SG=22 Brix
TA=0.51
PH=3.5

After adding sugar and acid blend I am now at:

Vol=11.75 gal
SG=24 Brix
TA=0.67
PH=3.3

Is this good to start fermenting or should I adjust anything else (enzymes added to work overnight)? I plan to do MLF once the cap forms, figure this will raise pH a bit but hopefully not drop TA too much.

Thanks!
Not to nit-pick, but did you have a target TA in mind? In other words, why are you making adjustments if you don't even know where you want go?

In answer to your question, your resultant TA is fine. The pH is also fine. However, adding sugar is unnecessary (22brix was fine) and the acid blend addition has potentially made your MLF a problem. ( Acid blend usually contains citric acid that Malo bacteria can convert to vinegar). Tartaric acid is the correct acid to use next time.

In short, I would reconsider MLF as it is risky. Up to you though. Otherwise it should ferment fine.
 

jsbeckton

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Not to nit-pick, but did you have a target TA in mind? In other words, why are you making adjustments if you don't even know where you want go?

In answer to your question, your resultant TA is fine. The pH is also fine. However, adding sugar is unnecessary (22brix was fine) and the acid blend addition has potentially made your MLF a problem. ( Acid blend usually contains citric acid that Malo bacteria can convert to vinegar). Tartaric acid is the correct acid to use next time.

In short, I would reconsider MLF as it is risky. Up to you though. Otherwise it should ferment fine.
Perhaps I should have specified but I am following the MoreWine manual for Reds which suggests the changes in SG and TA from my initial values. I’m not interested in a low abv wine as I find them thin. Big and bold is what I am seeking. Are you saying that this manual shouldn’t be followed?

Also, I didn’t see a Tartaric acid at my shop but maybe I missed it so will look closer next time. I searched on problems with MLF when using acid blend and saw no warning such as suggested above. Can you tell me where this caution comes from? Thanks.
 

jsbeckton

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I pitched BM 4x4 this morning but the must was still only about 64F (basement is 72F). Think I’ll have any issues getting it started at this temp?
 

Johnd

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In addition to the citric acid issue, you’ve also added malic acid to the concoction, and my understanding is that the MLB won’t convert this man made acid to lactic, so you’ll be stuck with some malic. Indeed, tartaric acid is the proper acid to use.

I agree with the others that your adjustment is a bit low on pH, high on TA, but I wouldn’t monkey with it any more. My target spot for big reds that have low pH is 3.55 - ish, TA in the 6 range +/- a few tenths. Probably would’ve left it alone if it were me, opting for minor taste adjustments later.

Your BM 4x4 should jump right into gear as the temps warm, no problem.

Edit: just to be sure, I scanned the MoreWine manual, it recommends using tartaric acid for adjustments, not acid blend. Recommended starting pH for reds in the 3.4 - 3.6 range, TA in the 6 - 7 range. I understand why you endeavored to get TA to 6, but that needs to be balanced with your pH considerations, and granted, it’ll come up up during AF / MLF, though you may be left with some malic......personally, I deem 3.3 too low for a red. Don’t fret, just remember, it’ll turn out fine in the end if you’re patient, plodding, and methodical.
 
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jsbeckton

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Agree, that I should have used Tartaric acid but given that ship has sailed so to speak, would you still attempt MLF?
 

jgmillr1

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MLF with citric acid can also produce buttery diacetyl flavors as well as vinegar. So you may not end up with a flavor profile you want. Link

Also, the malic you added in the acid blend is chemically produced and not a natural malic acid present in grapes. MLF only can attack L-malic (or is it D-?) so it won't convert and soften all of the malic in the wine anyway.

Your choice but I would not attempt MLF on it.
 

Johnd

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Agree, that I should have used Tartaric acid but given that ship has sailed so to speak, would you still attempt MLF?
Yes, I believe that I would, and I'll tell you why. First, since you'll have residual malic in your wine after the natural malic is consumed, it'll contribute to the sharp / tart acidic taste that you do MLF to get rid of, so convert as much as you can to lactic. Despite the fact that you may produce some diacetyl (which produces a buttery, mellow mouthfeel and may help), I think I'd want to get rid of the citric acid more. Merlot can be a pretty big flavorful wine and may just handle all of that in stride, focus on a good, clean ferment with plenty extraction, and perhaps consider combining your free run and press run wine for a bit more body and tannin. Let the yeasties work their magic and then let's see where you end up, there will still be lots of options to consider.............
 

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You also want to run MLF as a late spontaneous MLF in the bottle is disastrous. Think fizzy wine at a minimum, think popping corks and exploding bottles at the worst.

OR, look at inhibiting MLF. Lysozyme and appropriate PMBS:

https://winemakermag.com/technique/407-its-lysozyme-time

Buy Daniel Pambianchi's book on Home Winemaking.
 

NorCal

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I’d have run the wine as it was, probably would have been the best wine that juice could have made. Sometimes less is more.

Right or wrong, I’ll only adjust tartaric to hit a pH target for SO2 efficacy and then later adjust acid for taste only, not to hit a TA number.
 

jsbeckton

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Yes, I believe that I would, and I'll tell you why. First, since you'll have residual malic in your wine after the natural malic is consumed, it'll contribute to the sharp / tart acidic taste that you do MLF to get rid of, so convert as much as you can to lactic. Despite the fact that you may produce some diacetyl (which produces a buttery, mellow mouthfeel and may help), I think I'd want to get rid of the citric acid more. Merlot can be a pretty big flavorful wine and may just handle all of that in stride, focus on a good, clean ferment with plenty extraction, and perhaps consider combining your free run and press run wine for a bit more body and tannin. Let the yeasties work their magic and then let's see where you end up, there will still be lots of options to consider.............
Thanks for the feedback. Checked pH this morning and it’s 3.4 so may have changed a bit during mixing or my meter is just not that great [emoji849].

Interesting comment about the diacetly. I’ve been brewing beer for about 12 years and it’s a big concern for lagers but I swear I have never tasted it. I think my palate is just not sensitive to that compound for better or worse.
 

jsbeckton

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I’d have run the wine as it was, probably would have been the best wine that juice could have made. Sometimes less is more.

Right or wrong, I’ll only adjust tartaric to hit a pH target for SO2 efficacy and then later adjust acid for taste only, not to hit a TA number.
I can see now that I would have been ok with the original TA but what about the SG? Have you had a 22Brix wine you were happy with? Not a direct comparison but a few years back I made 2 juice buckets that were about about that same SG. I didn’t adjust and they fermented fine but the resulting wine was so thin I only use it for top up. It’s not really enjoyable at all (I did add the Bhrem frozen fruit additive packet).

I not sure if I just hate juice buckets or if it was the low abv that I didn’t find appealing.
 
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mainshipfred

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I can see now that I would have been ok with the original TA but what about the SG? Have you had a 22Brix wine you were happy with? Not a direct comparison but a few years back I made 2 juice buckets that were about about that same SG. I didn’t adjust and they fermented fine but the resulting wine was so thin I only use it for top up. It’s not really enjoyable at all (I did add the Bhrem frozen fruit additive packet).

I not sure if I just hate juice buckets or if it was the low abv that I didn’t find appealing.
I'd blame it on the juice buckets. For me the only juice buckets I'd consider are whites but really enjoyed making a Sauv Blanc from grapes last year. I made the same mistake with acid blend a couple years with a Syrah juice bucket. I wasn't the best wine but there were no flaws.
 

jsbeckton

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I was considering getting a WE Eclipse kit and fermenting it on these skins after pressing. Would you advise against that now after adding the acid blend here or do you think it’s OK because nearly all the juice will be pressed out anyways?
 

sour_grapes

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My vote would be: okay to use the skins if you did NOT do MLF, but don't use 'em if you do conduct MLF.
 

Johnd

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Acid and sugar additions are of little consequence, as @sour_grapes points out, MLF is a consideration if you coinoculate. The concern is the interaction between the MLB and potassium sorbate, which kits normally include as part of the standard chem additions, but which many of us skip. No one really knows if there was some sorbate added to the kit juice by the manufacturer to preserve it prior to packing, so just skipping sorbate later isn’t necessarily enough to guarantee the dreaded geranium stink, which is incurable.

Having prior warned, I will tell you that I’ve done it once, with an Eclipse kit, no sorbate added, bulk / barrel aged 1.5 years, bottled, and had no issues, the wine is still nice today.
 

jsbeckton

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I was just thinking about the MLB issue (even though I’ve never added the sorbate packet). If it were you would you delay MLF until after pressing or do you feel that you are better off adding MLF during primary so it’s not worth trying to keep the skins uncontaminated and therefore not try to reuse?

@Johnd, do you feel the extra skins really added anything to the Eclipse kit you tried this with?
 

NorCal

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I can see now that I would have been ok with the original TA but what about the SG? Have you had a 22Brix wine you were happy with? Not a direct comparison but a few years back I made 2 juice buckets that were about about that same SG. I didn’t adjust and they fermented fine but the resulting wine was so thin I only use it for top up. It’s not really enjoyable at all (I did add the Bhrem frozen fruit additive packet).

I not sure if I just hate juice buckets or if it was the low abv that I didn’t find appealing.
I’m not sure how adding sugar would make it less thin. It would raise the abv, but would not be adding any flavor. One of the best wines I have made (Cab Franc) was 23 brix.
 

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