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Which is more important? pH or TA?

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Masbustelo

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The title basically poses my question. Which is more important pH or the TA level? I have a young red wine still fermenting, the Ph is 3.77 and the TA is 8gl. At the beginning of the ferment the pH was 3.50 with a TA of 6gl. I wish that the pH was lower for aging issues, but I am hesitant to add more acid. I am doing a co-innoculation and ferment with MLF, so I expect the TA to drop and the pH to go higher. Should I wait until the MLF is complete and see what I am dealing with at the end? And then treat with Tartaric acid raise the TA and lower pH prior to aging and cold treatment this winter?
 
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NorCal

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I'm very interested what others more educated than me have to say, but having had some real high pH wines (3.8-3.9) I had to throw more SO2 at it than I wanted to, and will always adjust to the 3.5-3.6 range for SO2 efficacy.

As for taste, how does a lot of weak acid vs. less strong acid differ? Not sure, but I know that when the pH goes below 3.4 it tastes sharp to me. But, can a 3.5 pH wine with high TA also taste sharp? I'd also like to know.

Also interesting to note the big difference in tartaric acid required I've seen to change the pH of must, depending on its buffering capability..make the additions in small increments.
 

sdelli

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In my early days of wine making I always checked TA. Now a days I still check it but not very often.... Usually at the crush and then at bottling. My two driving points is Ph and SO2 thru out the process of barrels and carboys. You can almost bet for the most part if your Ph is in line.... TA will be fine. Ph on the other hand can make huge problems if too low or too high.
 

Treeman

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The title basically poses my question. Which is more important pH or the TA level? I have a young red wine still fermenting, the Ph is 3.77 and the TA is 8gl. At the beginning of the ferment the pH was 3.50 with a TA of 6gl. I wish that the pH was lower for aging issues, but I am hesitant to add more acid. I am doing a co-innoculation and ferment with MLF, so I expect the TA to drop and the pH to go higher. Should I wait until the MLF is complete and see what I am dealing with at the end? And then treat with Tartaric acid raise the TA and lower pH prior to aging and cold treatment this winter?

I would start by rechecking your TA and pH values. Be sure to degas the sample because dissolved co2 can mess everything up. If your numbers come up with high pH and high TA then you can blend with a low TA wine, or lower the pH to 3.6 with tartaric acid before you start MLF and cold stabilization. If the pH is 3.6 or lower then cold stabilizing will lower the pH and TA. Above 3.6 and your pH will go up with cold stabilizing.
 

GreginND

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In my early days of wine making I always checked TA. Now a days I still check it but not very often.... Usually at the crush and then at bottling. My two driving points is Ph and SO2 thru out the process of barrels and carboys. You can almost bet for the most part if your Ph is in line.... TA will be fine. Ph on the other hand can make huge problems if too low or too high.

Ditto. I agree completely.
 

spaniel

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In my early days of wine making I always checked TA. Now a days I still check it but not very often.... Usually at the crush and then at bottling. My two driving points is Ph and SO2 thru out the process of barrels and carboys. You can almost bet for the most part if your Ph is in line.... TA will be fine. Ph on the other hand can make huge problems if too low or too high.
This is geographical dependent, if using locally grown grapes.

Indiana is a rough areas for reds. We get very cold winters, so we need cold tolerant grapes. But our summers are hot and stay hot late. Typically I have to pull my reds in 80F+ heat when the bees/wasps start taking them in late August or early September. TA is ALWAYS high. I don't have the numbers at hand, but so high that even after cold stabilization and MLF it is still tart. I push the pH to the stability limit, and TA is still high.

I've gotten a bronze medal in competition, but I have yet to make a red wine I'm really proud of.

The birds took my red grapes this year due to lack to time/attention, but next year I will be laser focused on strategies to deal with high pH/high TA.
 

Scooter68

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While many use TA tests there are a lot of folks using pH tests since they do not destroy the sample used for a standard pH test. I think there is a growing shift to using a pH meter since they have become so inexpensive. You can even do a TA test with a pH meter and Sodium Hydroxide solution. This is actually a more accurate test method since you aren't watching a color change (which could be almost impossible to see in a deep red wine). BUT using a pH meter and SH will still mean that your sample has to be tossed out as toxic waste. I prefer just a simple pH test and then tasting with the tongue - after all who cares what the readings are if the wine tastes like vinegar or bilge water.

Your tongue will tell you if the wine is too acidic. Neither will give you what acids are in your wine.
 

Johnd

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While many use TA tests there are a lot of folks using pH tests since they do not destroy the sample used for a standard pH test. I think there is a growing shift to using a pH meter since they have become so inexpensive. You can even do a TA test with a pH meter and Sodium Hydroxide solution. This is actually a more accurate test method since you aren't watching a color change (which could be almost impossible to see in a deep red wine). BUT using a pH meter and SH will still mean that your sample has to be tossed out as toxic waste. I prefer just a simple pH test and then tasting with the tongue - after all who cares what the readings are if the wine tastes like vinegar or bilge water.

Your tongue will tell you if the wine is too acidic. Neither will give you what acids are in your wine.
I do both, as I believe them to be equally important. If I could only do one (for some unexplicable reason), I suppose I could get by just testing pH. Fortunately, that's not the case. As for sample destruction, we're only talking about 5 ml of wine, (a carboy contains 22,712 ml) it's insignificant even if you only make wine by the gallon...........
 

Reluctant Chemist

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Hello, That's a good question. TA affects flavor and balance. pH affects the speed of some chemical reactions like malolactic fermentation, the ability to age, and the amount of sulfite needed to protect a wine.

For your wine the pH looks a little high for your TA level. You might have a high potassium, which can cause this. I'd run the MLF, then check the TA and pH levels. Most likely the TA will be a bit lower. If the pH is still on the high side, I'd add some tartaric to bring it up to/back to the level that still tastes good. Then I'd chill the wine down near 32 - 40 deg., and leave it for several days. This should precipitate soneof the acid as a sodium/potassium/tartaric salt. This will remove both some TA and some potassium. Adding back tartaric to balance flavors should also bring the pH back down.
 
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