Sunday, July 6, 2008

Acidity In Wine: Part 1

This blog article is the first of several articles which will be written about acidity in wine. If you make all of your wines from commercial wine kits such as the WinExpert or Cellar Craft wine kits that are sold on the BlueStem Winery website, then the articles may be of interest to you but the measurement of the acidity in your wine will not be necessary as both the Cellar Craft and WinExpert ingredient kits are acid balanced to guarantee that your wine has the proper level of acidity when it is finished. If your home wine making involves making wine from fresh grapes or from backyard fruit then the articles will not only be interesting but the processes involved will need to be followed to help your home made wines obtain the proper acid balance.

The acids present in wine provide the slightly tart taste you notice when the wine is on your tongue. Wines that have too little acidity taste stale and flat while wines which have too much acidity leave your palate feeling like you have been sucking on a very strong lemon. Excellent wines have obtained a balance between the acid level and the other characteristics present in the wine (alcohol, sugars, etc.).

Tartaric, malic and citric acids represent the majority of the acids found in grape wines. Other acids are found in fruit and vegetable wines and in varying quantities. Citrus fruits obviously have much more citric acid then other fruits and vegetables while oxalic acid is present in rhubarb (oxalic acid is toxic in large concentrations and is used in products such as bleaches, stain removers, and can be used as a sanitizing agent for home winemaking and home brewing equipment).

If your wine has low acid levels it is easy to increase the acidity through the addition of tartaric, malic and citric acids or you can use a product sold on the BlueStem Winery website known as Acid Blend. Most commercially prepared acid blends consist of tartaric acid (10%), malic acid (40%) and citric acid (50%). Research we have done indicates that years ago commercially prepared acid blends were made in approximately the following ratio: Tartaric acid (40%), malic acid (40%) and citric acid (20%). The reason for the change is simple: citric acid is cheap, tartaric acid is much more expensive. For your information, BlueStem Winery blends their own acid blend and uses the much more desirable tartaric acid at 50%, malic acid at 40% and the less desirable citric acid at only 10%.

More on the testing of your wine and the addition of the proper level of acids to follow in future blog articles.

BlueStem Winery is located in the tornado ravaged community of Parkersburg, Iowa (but the winery survived intact) and markets winemaking supplies, WinExpert wine kits and Cellar Craft kits. In addition to all things necessary for wine making, BlueStem also carries a complete inventory of homebrew supplies, brewing ingredients and beer brewing equipment.

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