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Wine improvement. PH, SO2 & TA

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I am relatively new to wine making and wanted some input on the Chemistry. I have been making wine since 2013 and each year is getting a little better. I have a pretty clean, sterile workspace. We grow our grapes onsite. Single varietal Primitivo. Generally pick and crush around 22-23 Brix. Ferment indoors in 28g brute NSF containers. Press, then store in glass for about 21-30 days. Then rack and filter into french oak.
The past 2 years I have not been making any significant changes in ph or TA. And since it has been in a barrel I have more or less left it alone.
I am hoping to get some input into regular testing and adjusting PH, TA & SO2. Will the result be huge? My wine is drinkable, but not amazing. I have used the "titrets" kit from more wine once, but found it to be clumsy and I wasn't sure of my results. I have a digital ph meter I have used at crush, but not beyond that. Do people prefer the old school methods of titration for or should one consider springing for he vinmetrica?
I appreciate people's input as I don't have any wine making friends around to help guide me, I am currently relying on forum groups such as this. Thank you
-Warren
 

CryptoStorm

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What kind of grape? Sweet or dry?

I wouldn't make a regular practice of filtering..

Both pH and TA are important as far as chemistry, but your mouth should your main test. I wouldn't invest heavy capital into testing equipment. The biggest investment you can make in regards to acid is knowledge. Know what acid can/should be present in your wine, what the acids taste like, and most importantly what you can do about it. There are a lot of university research papers out there that are excellent resources for gaining knowledge.

The easiest thing that will increase the quality of a wine (especially from grapes) is the time you allow it to age. Are you drinking your wine from 2 or 3 years ago? Or 6 months ago?

Probably one of the biggest things a home brewer/winemaker can do to up their game is to get the fermentation and aging temperatures under control. A fermentation chamber.
 
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CryptoStorm

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I forgot that you are growing your own grapes..

With a grape plant the main thing is to allow it to struggle. It seems counterintuitive to most other gardening.. - but removing both leaves and fruit from the vine during the year will make the vine struggle and it will start to focus its energy on reproduction. - increase the complexity of the all important fruit.

Also when you pick the grape is really important. Not just the day; but the hour and minute.

A grape picked on a cool early morning will have higher acidity and lower sugar.
A grape picked later in the day will have lower acidity and higher sugar.
 

salcoco

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my first thought is are the grapes sufficiently ripe. Primitivo can get as high as 26 brix with a subsequent reduction in acid. Ph and Ta are important at the start of fermentation but taste buds are best after wine has cleared. possibly adding fermentation tannin during fermentation would help. visit scottlabs.com and I believe they have a discussion on tannin additions. aging as mentioned also is a great wine taste addition.
titration with ph meter to 8.2 works just as well as any other method. precision and caution are the best steps to take. SO2 addition of 1/4 tsp per gallons works for me. I have sued all types of tools for this measurement and found that the 1/4 tsp adjustment works just fine. I add after first rack from gross lees and then at three month rack . if in barrel every three months addition would work.
 

JohnT

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I like to follow these steps...

On the outset, I test PH, TA, and so2. I then adjust only when the numbers are below a realistic level. For example, if my TA was below .5, and the PH agrees with an abnormally high reading, I will adjust the acid preferment. Acid plays a big role in color extraction, so I want to adjust up when it makes sense.

After fermentation and MLF, I do an acid trial with a couple of other folks. When we all agree on the best tasting acid level, I adjust the acid accordingly, then adjust the SO2 to a level that is appropriate to that PH.

During bulk aging, I do periodic tests and adjust SO2 as needed.
 

ibglowin

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You may be picking a little early. Like others have said most grapes from your region get picked around 24 Brix in order to get more physiological ripeness.

It would be interesting to see your numbers for pH and TA as many here have worked with grapes from the Lodi area and know them well.

When your working with barrels you really need to keep up with your SO2 levels. The bigger the barrel the slower to drop but drop they will and if your leaving your wine in a barrel for a year there is lots of time for oxidation if your not keeping up with SO2 additions.

I am relatively new to wine making and wanted some input on the Chemistry. I have been making wine since 2013 and each year is getting a little better. I have a pretty clean, sterile workspace. We grow our grapes onsite. Single varietal Primitivo. Generally pick and crush around 22-23 Brix. Ferment indoors in 28g brute NSF containers. Press, then store in glass for about 21-30 days. Then rack and filter into french oak.
The past 2 years I have not been making any significant changes in ph or TA. And since it has been in a barrel I have more or less left it alone.
I am hoping to get some input into regular testing and adjusting PH, TA & SO2. Will the result be huge? My wine is drinkable, but not amazing. I have used the "titrets" kit from more wine once, but found it to be clumsy and I wasn't sure of my results. I have a digital ph meter I have used at crush, but not beyond that. Do people prefer the old school methods of titration for or should one consider springing for he vinmetrica?
I appreciate people's input as I don't have any wine making friends around to help guide me, I am currently relying on forum groups such as this. Thank you
-Warren
 

Johnd

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So your other question, I give the Vinmetrica 300 several thumbs up, worth every penny. Test the BRIX, pH and TA of your grapes regularly in the field is simple. Couple drops on a refractometer for BRIX, 5ml juice will get you pH and TA, and the opportunity to optimize your harvest plan and timing.
 

NorCal

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I adjust pH aggressively at crush for future SO2 efficacy. Instead of measuring TA, I'll make any fine tuning by taste. I used to be really fastidious about SO2 additions and meeting the curve in the book, but the more I have made wine and talked with excellent commercial winemakers, I'm moving more toward what @salcoco said. Be sure to have a sterile environment, good fruit, topped containers and reasonable pH and you will have little chance of spoilage with a 50ppm schedule of SO2 additions.

Given that, what makes a good wine great? The fruit and blend. It is all about starting with excellent fruit. Without it, you cannot make a great wine. Then, the taste profile of the wine may not be able to stand on its own. Like a great steak that needs seasoning, or great combinations of flavors that compliment each other (peanut butter and chocolate)and have synergy. It is hard to explain, but easy to spot when a combination of wine just tastes great.

Thus the art and science of winemaking that it takes to really make a nice wine, in my opinion.
 
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