Good tip on fining the vinegar gag from a wine damaged by VA

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May 8, 2017
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As a home winemaker, I've had to deal with spoilage due to volatile acidity a few times. Once I actually boiled the wine in question (VA is called that b/c it can be separated from the wine by boiling the volatiles off) but it was a total PITA. The final wine was a bit flat on the fruit, but totally clean of VA! It was a hassle but worth it.

My bulk wine from '17 was in carboy too long AND I hadn't yet purchased a compressed neutral gas sparger (have now!) I had a gallon carboy with half the space exposed, and some of my best dry white got the filmy white crust of Death (acetobacter and resulting VA).

I tried blending it with new wines. The nose was OK and also the mid-palate, but on the finish that awful gag of VA just made me pull all the corks, put the wine in a large blending carboy, and add a hefty dose (3 g/ gallon) of PVPP, since I remembered that it works well for removing bitterness.

I"m pleased to say it worked! It was amazing to taste the finished wine with no VA burn. I then added 1:7.5 ratio of very good viognier to this vidal/vio blend, and it was as good as new.

Moral #1: bite the bullet and buy a tank of neutral gas with a gauge and hose to fit; sparge all your empty carboys and bottles, then sparge any remaining headspace, but top up even if you have to use some other finished wine.

Moral #2: If you get a VA problem in a bulk wine, THROW IT OUT!! "Denial is more than a river in Egypt." Don't ruin the rest of your wine and then spend money on neutral wine to fix it; it doesn't take much VA to make a wine undrinkable, especially a fruity delicate white.

Moral #3: If you need to remove VA taint from a wine, first stabilize the wine (KMS) then use PVPP and I think you'll be relieved and happy!
What does PVPP stand for? Don't believe I have ever seen that before. Arne.

PVPP is an acronym for a long complicated name for an inert finely ground plastic that binds with polyphenols in wine. I got mine from Presque Isle Wine Cellars (great source for homewinemaking equipment). It's recommended for removing bitterness, which it does, but for removing VA gag, that's almost magic!
FWIIW: I have made a lot of mistakes making wine. (Really, really a lot -- most of the dumbest probably at one point or another.). But VA has not been one of them. The easiest to avoid.

And I have made a lot of wine vinegar, on purpose -- because it is the easiest process to do well. And great in home made pasta sauces, et al.

But one should never, ever, do wine making and vinegar in the same area. You don't want those bacteria floating around where you make wine. And thus why, if you even once you had VA problems, consider a complete clean sterilization of your wine making area before any more wine making.

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