High TA, low pH

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mcissell

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Hi, everyone.

I'm currently about 2.5 months into my first batch of kit wine, an RJ Spagnols En Premeur Super Tuscan, and I'm having trouble with the acidity. I've followed all of the directions other than the Potassium Sorbate addition, which I skipped to avoid the off flavors, but I have a wine that tastes VERY tart.

Here are the current specs...
SG: .997
pH: 3.26
TA: .825% (by targeting a pH meter reading of 8.2)

It is a beautifully looking, dark ruby, clear, medium minus bodied wine, but the first sip really makes me pucker. My next planned step was to add some oak to the carboy, but I think I need to do something about the acidity first.

What is my best course of action here? Acidex? Calcium Carbonate? It seems like it's going to need a big adjustment to reach the typical red ranges.

Thanks for the help!
 

ceeaton

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Hi, everyone.

I'm currently about 2.5 months into my first batch of kit wine, an RJ Spagnols En Premeur Super Tuscan, and I'm having trouble with the acidity. I've followed all of the directions other than the Potassium Sorbate addition, which I skipped to avoid the off flavors, but I have a wine that tastes VERY tart.

Here are the current specs...
SG: .997
pH: 3.26
TA: .825% (by targeting a pH meter reading of 8.2)

It is a beautifully looking, dark ruby, clear, medium minus bodied wine, but the first sip really makes me pucker. My next planned step was to add some oak to the carboy, but I think I need to do something about the acidity first.

What is my best course of action here? Acidex? Calcium Carbonate? It seems like it's going to need a big adjustment to reach the typical red ranges.

Thanks for the help!
Your first course of action is to either manually degas it or let age do it. Your wine is extremely young, and if there is a lot of CO2 still in suspension, which I suspect, your test results will not be correct unless you degassed the sample before testing.

Go look at the label of your favorite Super Tuscan, is it 2013, 2012 or 2011? Wine takes time whether it is a commercial wine or your kit. Your wine is young and needs time to develop into what the kit maker was trying to achieve. Also, the kit maker has already worried about pH and acidity in the finished wine, so you shouldn't need to test and adjust.

Your Super Tuscan, when finished will have an acid bite if it is true to style but balanced by the other flavors and characteristics of the wine, it will be tempered by age. Patience is one of the best tools in our toolbox, just one of the harder ones to use (I know, I'm an impatient bastard).
 

mcissell

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I did degas with a drill/whip, so that part is adjusted for at least.

With regard to the time aspect, I'm not planning on touching this for at least another 10-12 months, and I realize that time is a powerful tool, but is it really feasible to think that waiting even a year will compensate for a wine with this pH?
 

ceeaton

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I did degas with a drill/whip, so that part is adjusted for at least.

With regard to the time aspect, I'm not planning on touching this for at least another 10-12 months, and I realize that time is a powerful tool, but is it really feasible to think that waiting even a year will compensate for a wine with this pH?
Yes.

I've seen amazing things in just a few months. Try it again when it hits 6 months total since pitching the yeast, compare it to what you taste now, and if it hasn't changed, re-ask the question.
 
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salcoco

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go ahead an oak the wine. agree you must have patience as the wine is very young. the numbers by the way are okay. that is why taste should be predominate not necessarily numbers. you are in the "art" potion of wine making. the science portion was when you started fermenting. oak and be patient.
if the wine is still tart after about three months cold stabilize and some of the acid will drop out.
 
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mcissell

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<sigh> Wait and see it is! Haha.

Realizing that there's going to be variability in personal preference, what is a typical length of time for oaking a wine like this? I have 2 packages of 3oz medium toast Hungarian oak cubes.
 

ceeaton

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<sigh> Wait and see it is! Haha.

Realizing that there's going to be variability in personal preference, what is a typical length of time for oaking a wine like this? I have 2 packages of 3oz medium toast Hungarian oak cubes.
Assuming that the oak that came with the kit wasn't enough, I'd add one of the packages, and let your personal preference dictate how long you leave them in and determine if you add the other 3 ounces. Personally I add oak an ounce at a time, even for a 6 gallon kit batch. The oak cubes I get from MoreWinemaking.com say they add flavor for 3 to 6 months. So I'd use it as a reason to taste your wine every few weeks and when it gets a little bit too oak, take them out knowing that the flavor will die back a bit as it ages.
 

mcissell

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I did add the oak chips that came with the kit prior to fermentation, but I can't appreciate any of the oak flavor, due, at least in part, to the tartness of the wine. However, I've read on other forum posts that this kit can benefit from additional oak, and I typically enjoy bolder, drier, more tannic wines anyway.

This is part of the reason why I was hoping to find a solution to the acidity. I figured that I would be able to better judge the level of oak without the pucker factor present.
 

brewbush

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I would recommend against checking ph and TA for kits. This is just my opinion. The kits are made a certain way with certain chemicals for shelf life and to standardize the taste. Checking ph/TA like with grape wines is more just an educational exercise.

I know some people on here check ph but anecdotally I have never seen a post where the results were acted upon or even what they would do with the results. Never a post saying that the manufacture messed up and I had to do xyz to fix it

I agree with those about. Let it sit. Oak it. Rack a few times over the next 6-12 months and retest only if you think there may be a problem. Otherwise I am fairly certain the taste is how it was meant to be.
 

mcissell

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I would recommend against checking ph and TA for kits. This is just my opinion. The kits are made a certain way with certain chemicals for shelf life and to standardize the taste. Checking ph/TA like with grape wines is more just an educational exercise.

I know some people on here check ph but anecdotally I have never seen a post where the results were acted upon or even what they would do with the results. Never a post saying that the manufacture messed up and I had to do xyz to fix it

I agree with those about. Let it sit. Oak it. Rack a few times over the next 6-12 months and retest only if you think there may be a problem. Otherwise I am fairly certain the taste is how it was meant to be.
Ok, so let's just say for the sake of argument that this is how the wine was designed to taste. I let it sit, and maybe it evolves, maybe it doesn't. I oak it, and maybe it creates complexity, but maybe it doesn't. Let's say I still find it to be too tart a year down the road...two years....three... How would you hack the kit to remove the acidity and make it more palatable?

Just to clarify, I'm by no means suggesting it's actually flawed, and at this junction I'm not going to do anything other than let it sit and age. More of an educational exercise than anything...

Should I just dilute it with 20 gallons of 2010 Brunello Riserva? ;)
 

TonyR

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What I would do is #1. Put the carboys in my shed for a month or 2 and cold stablize the wine. (I live in the north where we have a winter) that will drop your acid level. # 2. Check it again next spring after it is at least 6 months old. If it tastes good to YOU bottle it. If it is still to acidic there are things you can add like Calcium Carbonate. Rember the most important thing is make the wine how you enjoy it, there are no hard fast rules, just opinions and you know what opinions are like and yes they all stink. :db
 

NCWC

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as a tip:
Calcium Carbonate should be used when in the must stage
Potassium Bicarbonate is used after pressing/fermentation stage
must rack after using

I would say leave your wine alone it will end up in the 3.6ph 7.0Ta
 
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mcissell

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What I would do is #1. Put the carboys in my shed for a month or 2 and cold stablize the wine. (I live in the north where we have a winter) that will drop your acid level. # 2. Check it again next spring after it is at least 6 months old. If it tastes good to YOU bottle it. If it is still to acidic there are things you can add like Calcium Carbonate. Rember the most important thing is make the wine how you enjoy it, there are no hard fast rules, just opinions and you know what opinions are like and yes they all stink. :db
I was giving serious consideration to cold stabilizing as a means of lowering the TA, but I read on one of the winemaking sites (actually a Pambianchi article in Winemaker Mag) that cold stabilizing at a low pH (<3.65) actually LOWERS the pH further due to the relative loss of potassium as it binds to the tartaric acid.
 

Boatboy24

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as a tip:
Calcium Carbonate should be used when in the must stage
Potassium Bicarbonate is used after pressing/fermentation stage
must rack after using

I would say leave your wine alone it will end up in the 3.6ph 7.0Ta
I successfully adjusted my Cab last year using Potassium Carbonate, followed by cold stabilization.

From the MoreWinemakng Guide to Red Winemaking:
If you need to raise the pH because the wine is too acidic, adding Potassium Carbonate at a rate of 3.8 grams per gallon will raise the pH by approximately 0.10 units. The wine is then chilled to as close to 33°F as possible for two weeks. When done, rack it off of the deposit, double check the SO2 level and return to the normal aging/storage schedule.

I'm confused by the differences you find in written documentation, but this method worked for me. :?
 

NCWC

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I successfully adjusted my Cab last year using Potassium Carbonate, followed by cold stabilization.


I'm confused by the differences you find in written documentation, but this method worked for me. :?
Calcium Carb will work but may give the wine a chalky taste and doesn't precipitate out as well after fermentation
 

mcissell

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Can someone explain to me what would happen chemically with the wine that would alter the pH over time if I just let it sit? My engineering mind is having a tough time wrapping my head around that aspect.

Probably also worth noting that the pH and TA readings were identical between the first and second months after fermentation.
 

NCWC

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I successfully adjusted my Cab last year using Potassium Carbonate, followed by cold stabilization.

I'm confused by the differences you find in written documentation, but this method worked for me. :?
Potassium Bicarbonate will work the same but you can rack off in a day or 2 without the CS
 

Boatboy24

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Potassium Bicarbonate will work the same but you can rack off in a day or 2 without the CS
What is the difference between using the potassium carbonate vs bicarbonate? I used potassium carbonate. My understanding was that the bicarbonate does not require CS, but may strip the wine. And the carbonate, while requiring CS, does not present as much risk of stripping color/flavor.
 

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