High pH wine ~1 month before bottling

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BarrelMonkey

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I made a 2021 pinot noir, and so far I've been delighted with its progress. (Original thread describing crush, fermentation and press is here). The wine (60gal) is in neutral French oak, with topping wine in a keg.

After barreling down, pH and TA were 3.61 and 6.75 respectively. I added ML culture, which (when complete) took pH and TA to 3.70 and 5.55.

I've been diligent with measuring and adding SO2 monthly (targeting ~40ppm as well as topping, of course), and over the last few months a rich, smooth and complex wine has emerged. At my latest topping, however, I noticed a bit of film on the wine. SO2 was still reasonable (28ppm), but surprisingly the pH has gone up to 3.81. Conversely, TA is slightly increased (5.63).

I was planning to bottle in a month or so, but have reservations about that high pH. Options I'm considering are increased SO2, filtering or adding tartaric acid (though a bit leery about the last option this close to bottling). I'd be interested to hear the collective wisdom of the group here (knowing of course that 10 winemakers = 11 opinions, etc)...

Thanks in advance!
 

Rice_Guy

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My perspective is food industry. pH is a preservative that keeps a lot of micro families out of the beverage. Me as a wine maker I wouldn’t have reduced the acid and reduce the shelf life. I haven’t seen any papers about storage but with wine I have rerun over years it has consistently increased in pH/ decrease in TA. Google suggested that alcohol is combining with acid producing aldehydes. With factory equipment I would sterile filter at .45 micron. And enjoy it. I don’t like the note about white film (aerobic organism)/ spoilage organisms.

Reality check, you probably will be OK with free SO2 and 12% alcohol and pH 3.8 and low ullage. Your volume is low, ie incidence of problems shows up in number per 100 million liters.
 
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BarrelMonkey

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With factory equipment I would sterile filter at .45 micron. And enjoy it. I don’t like the note about white film (aerobic organism)/ spoilage organisms.

Reality check, you probably will be OK with free SO2 and 12% alcohol and pH 3.8 and low ullage.

It turns out that I may be able to 0.45um filter, so that's what I'm leaning towards. Alcohol is going to be fairly high with this one - I think at least 14.5% - so I'm hoping that will help. It will be difficult to bottle under completely aseptic conditions, but I plan to at least give my bottles a tartaric/SO2 rinse before putting wine in them.
 

Nebbiolo020

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A ph of 3.7-3.8 is perfect, last fall at work some of our musts were testing at 4.2 or 4.3 after crush so we had to add tartaric to correct to 3.7 prior to fermentation as 4.2-4.3 would be flabby and prone to faults due to low acid.
 

BarrelMonkey

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A ph of 3.7-3.8 is perfect, last fall at work some of our musts were testing at 4.2 or 4.3 after crush so we had to add tartaric to correct to 3.7 prior to fermentation as 4.2-4.3 would be flabby and prone to faults due to low acid.
Do you recall what sort of FSO2 you target for bottling at this pH level? I'm at 45ppm now, reluctant to take it much higher.
 

Nebbiolo020

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Do you recall what sort of FSO2 you target for bottling at this pH level? I'm at 45ppm now, reluctant to take it much higher.
I do not remember off the top of my head, I think it was like 50 but I can’t say for sure. I may have that information on my phone somewhere as I did take notes on stuff I’ll have to check.
 

CDrew

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Having been through this a few times, I'd not worry too much. Your pH is not that bad. But if you really feel that you want it lower by 0.1 or 0.2, I've done late corrections and it's a good thing on balance. The important thing is to TASTE THE WINE. Add 1 or 2 gm per liter of tartaric acid only after taste comparisons. You can break down the proportions and do taste trials. If the wine tastes better with acid additions, add to the whole amount. If not, the default is to leave it alone. It sounds like you like the wine. So your baseline is good. Add acid only if it gets better with more acid. In this case, I'd be inclined to sulfite to pH,and declare victory.
 

BarrelMonkey

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Having been through this a few times, I'd not worry too much. Your pH is not that bad. But if you really feel that you want it lower by 0.1 or 0.2, I've done late corrections and it's a good thing on balance. The important thing is to TASTE THE WINE. Add 1 or 2 gm per liter of tartaric acid only after taste comparisons. You can break down the proportions and do taste trials. If the wine tastes better with acid additions, add to the whole amount. If not, the default is to leave it alone. It sounds like you like the wine. So your baseline is good. Add acid only if it gets better with more acid. In this case, I'd be inclined to sulfite to pH,and declare victory.

Thanks, I am probably overthinking this since it's my 'first baby'... I did do a tartaric acid addition taste test a few months ago, but found all the additions distracting. I will probably, as you say, sulfite to pH and declare victory. 👍
 

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