Marquette pretty tart

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Primerib

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Hi all, this is my first post here though I’ve been lurking for years. Tried this same question over at Homebrewtalk but didn’t get much attention so thought I’d try my luck here.

Hoping to bottle my Marquette from last September soon to make room in the carboys for this year’s batches. First attempt at “real” red wine. Grape selection was not very judicious, literally went with the only vineyard I could find that would sell me a small lot (100ish lbs) of grapes. Grapes tasted great but judging by brix/SG were a tad underripe and as such my resulting wine is quite acidic, did have to add sugar to get brix to more appropriate level.

It was oaked over the winter, cold crashed and racked off the resulting acid precipitate, went through malolactic fermentation (presumably anyway. I added MLF culture, never did any high tech monitoring to verify) Smells great, tastes pretty good, but has an undeniable tartness that makes it borderline undrinkable.

I fined it last week with sparkalloid. It’s a bit thin so planning on adding some glycerin for body and hoping the slight sweetness will smooth out the sharp edges.

Other than this, any other possible suggestions? Because of the MLF, it seems sorbate/bscksweetening are out. I’ve read about testing the pH and adding potassium bicarb if it is indeed too acidic. Was hoping there’s one other possible remedy without getting into expensive testing equipment this time around, although it probably wouldn’t be the worst thing to have for this year’s upcoming batches.
 

ibglowin

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Sorry but Marquette is known to have low ph and high TA in cooler climes such as yours. You need to invest in a decent pH meter and buffers as well as a TA test kit so you have at least some data on where your grapes are at at the start and your wine as well post AF. If you decide to drop some acid with carbonate you will need a good TA and pH number before you even think about messing with it. Your only other option would be to back sweeten the wine and see if that makes it more palatable.
 
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Rice_Guy

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Welcome to wine making talk!
At this point you have painted yourself in a corner. It is basically ready to bottle. I have seen a lot of sweetness levels out there and they follow the trend of more TotalAcidity balances with more sugar. , , , , normal for assorted wines
View attachment 72206
I only have one commercial Niagra sample, apparently they were targeting a sweeter audience. By the numbers TA 0.80%, pH 2.95, gravity 0.998. ,,, YUP a bit acid but a lot of other vinters balance their wine where you are.
Opinion; crystal clear, well made, excellent foxy aroma, no off flavors (VA), at state fair I would rank it a blue, I tend to sweeten my whites a closer to 1.005 to get more fruity flavor.
My zone is marginal for Niagra so I have yet to get any juice numbers.
 

wood1954

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You still could use a little potassium bicarbonate before you bottle it. My 2019 was picked too early as well, it’s not bad over ice, the ice dilutes the acid and the cold disguises the acid a little. This year I’ll leave the grapes on longer.
 

Khristyjeff

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If misery loves company, welcome friend!
I could have written your post about my Petite Pearl from last year. In fact I did ask for advice in another thread. I was told not to rush it. It may smooth out in the months ahead. They also suggested cold crashing again.
I was able to test my pH with a $50 pH tester and verified that my pH was low (but much like in your case, when it reminds you of eating lemons then you can guess your pH is low). As far as MLF, I wasn't able to test to see if it actually worked but I do know the pH remained the same. Also I seem to remember reading where MLF struggles in a low pH environment.
On a positive note, two of my 1 gallon jugs of PP taste better (less tart) than the wine in the 6 gallon carboy. Since I believe wine ages faster in smaller bottles (may or may not be true), this could reinforce the idea that patience and time may fix my wine. So for now I'm not sweating it and will wait it out a while longer.
Good luck with whatever direction you decide to go, and welcome to WMT.
 

winemaker81

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@Primerib, how cold did you go with the cold crash? Depending on your answer, you may be able to do it again to get more acid precipitation.

The point at which wine freezes varies depending on ABV and other values, so to be safe I don't recommend going below 27 F. Personally, I don't like to chill wine below 32 F, but it is feasible to do so as long as the wine does not freeze.

If you add potassium carbonate, go gentle. Changing acid levels chemically after fermentation can go wrong, producing undesirable results. Keep in mind that it's much easier to add more than to take some out.
 

Rice_Guy

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I am going to ask what are the sharp edges?
I have a carboy prepared for bottling and my initial thought was acid front note with a long bitter tannic finish, , , kinda like you. In sweetening bench trials I couldn’t get away from the sharp front note with sugar and started to think it is a bitter tannic note since at pH 3.5 and TA 0.65% it is where it should be, ,,,and I remember two plants of petite Pearl went in the batch
The next trial was a drop of wine improver and the third trial was a drop of glycerin, ,,,, glycerin reduced the tannic/ bitter front note without decreasing the long tannic finish, so,,, I just finished adding a four oz bottle to the carboy.
) Smells great, tastes pretty good, but has an undeniable tartness that makes it borderline undrinkable. . .It’s a bit thin so planning on adding some glycerin for body and hoping the slight sweetness will smooth out the sharp edges.
when I taste I try to look at flavor as a series. First the sweet notes, next acid notes, and then longer flavor notes as bitter, astringent, ,,,,,, so I ask what first flavor and what sharp edges, followed by what next flavor? ,,,, if this is a tannin, eating a meat as a dry ham should inactivate the long tannic flavors to let you pull out the other notes.
Should be better after another year age, with tannin polymerized.
 
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Steve Wargo

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Hi all, this is my first post here though I’ve been lurking for years. Tried this same question over at Homebrewtalk but didn’t get much attention so thought I’d try my luck here.

Hoping to bottle my Marquette from last September soon to make room in the carboys for this year’s batches. First attempt at “real” red wine. Grape selection was not very judicious, literally went with the only vineyard I could find that would sell me a small lot (100ish lbs) of grapes. Grapes tasted great but judging by brix/SG were a tad underripe and as such my resulting wine is quite acidic, did have to add sugar to get brix to more appropriate level.

It was oaked over the winter, cold crashed and racked off the resulting acid precipitate, went through malolactic fermentation (presumably anyway. I added MLF culture, never did any high tech monitoring to verify) Smells great, tastes pretty good, but has an undeniable tartness that makes it borderline undrinkable.

I fined it last week with sparkalloid. It’s a bit thin so planning on adding some glycerin for body and hoping the slight sweetness will smooth out the sharp edges.

Other than this, any other possible suggestions? Because of the MLF, it seems sorbate/bscksweetening are out. I’ve read about testing the pH and adding potassium bicarb if it is indeed too acidic. Was hoping there’s one other possible remedy without getting into expensive testing equipment this time around, although it probably wouldn’t be the worst thing to have for this year’s upcoming batches.
I made Marquette wine from 2020 harvest grapes. The majority of it is still in carboys. I adjusted TA a little before fermentation with Potassium Bicarbonate. . The wine tastes good. Yes, a little tart like Marquette is supposed to taste. Acidity is a good preservative. It'll be great in 100 years. lol Ok getting serious.

It seems that you question whether the Malolactic bacteria did their job. I might worry about that. If you bottle now, and MLF present decides to kick-in, you could have a mess on your hands. You might be better off buying some inexpensive extra carboys on FB marketplace and allow the wine to age for another year. You could bring temps up in the carboys to 70f+ and see if any noticeable MLF begins. Maybe find a local wine club and talk with someone that might have testing equipment that can help you. Me? I wouldn't bottle yet. Or I'd bottle and keep it refrigerated.
 

Primerib

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@Primerib, how cold did you go with the cold crash? Depending on your answer, you may be able to do it again to get more acid precipitation.

The point at which wine freezes varies depending on ABV and other values, so to be safe I don't recommend going below 27 F. Personally, I don't like to chill wine below 32 F, but it is feasible to do so as long as the wine does not freeze.

If you add potassium carbonate, go gentle. Changing acid levels chemically after fermentation can go wrong, producing undesirable results. Keep in mind that it's much easier to add more than to take some out.
I put it in the garage to cold crash, temps were just above freezing, low 30s. Good points made by everyone, I’ll see what the glycerin does to it but perhaps as was suggested by another I’ll let it sit a while longer, or another year.
 
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