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TA Rising Revisited The importance of measuring TA when making wine.

2013 December 27

Inspired by Dan now reading his musings on winepress, I reminded me of a discussion I had with Marty Yule a long time ago on ” and this blog. Oh yeah and Greg you are pretty Anti TA in your last post I would take you on with those comments in a heartbeat and truthfully I don’t think they are that helpful for new winemakers either. But no one will argue with you on winepress. Such is the nature of the forum you administer. Actually Greg you sound like Scorch. Anyway Here goes…

You need to experience just once the TA rising after fermentation is complete. Leaving you to wonder if the Tartaric Genie visited your Must in the middle of the night, leaving you at .85 when you were shooting for .67 You might be looking for that to happen, as it did last year with some of the Brutocoa grapes I fermented. Please don’t ask, my NAOH was standardized and 2 PH meters confirmed it and yes, don’t be insulting, even guys like me own a microwave but we warm leftover pasta in a frying pan. Believe me even with the price of heating oil being high, I prayed for a cold winter in NY. It appears the same Tartaric Genie visited Whackfol in a thread entitled: “Cs/merlot Help And Advice?” I love a guy that is confident in his testing methods too. I really do, congratulations Whackfol.

Just the Numbers Please

Let’s look at Mokadir’s Thread “my numbers are a bit unexpected”. Now, here is another example of the unexplained inconsistencies that I am speaking about. By the way, has anyone ever tried to sell you a centrifuge? Look at the numbers Cavilierhome posted. He started out with the Cabernet Sauvignon at PH 3.83 to 3.93 and a TA of .75. On October 2nd he added 2.5 gr/l of tartaric acid and his results were PH 3.52 TA 8.88. Then, on October 5th, his results were between PH 3.47 and 3.52 and a TA of .78 So he was able to lower the PH from 3.93 to 3.47 and had only a rise in TA of .03. Interesting. Is that even possible? Here are a few radical thoughts, as far as I am concerned, the hard rule of adjusting acid at the pre-fermentation needs another review. Using acidulated water expecting to get accurate readings is wishful thinking too. Without more documentation at this point I think if I have a PH lower than 3.65 and a TA of .50 or more I will ride out the ferment without adjustments. I remember well Greg saying to me “Gene just once I would love to see you get grapes you don’t need to adjust”. I heard you Buddy, believe me, I heard you and I didn’t adjust. Look at my numbers for ’08 Mackenzie Merlot. At crush, PH 3.46 TA .50 almost perfect right? Except it is a bit odd to me that the PH could be that low with a TA of only .50, certainly not a Central Valley scenario. At 14 Brix, the results were PH 3.38 TA .73 besides that PH went lower look at the TA, NO TARTARIC WAS ADDED! The Cabernet Sauvignon “Trio” followed suit, starting with a TA of .52 and ending with a TA of .70, could these seemingly unpredictable TA numbers be caused by the superior packing and shipping methods of the grapes we are now buying? Are you finding “hard to remove” deposits building up on your destemmer paddles? I am lately. One thing for sure if you buy from others around here and not M&M you don’t get a 48 degree Must after crushing. Another clue provided by Fred the Bulldog stated the grapes are stacked in a cooling tower at 32 degrees. Mokadir may be on to something after all, a new concept, “Cold Stabilization of the Grape”
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27 Responses leave one →
  1. Dan Lodico permalink
    December 27, 2013

    And I love a guy who heats up left over spaghetti in a frying pan!

  2. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    December 27, 2013

    And you must be that guy after reading your winepress posts LOL!

  3. Proud Puppy permalink
    December 27, 2013

    Not a radical idea at all. Not seen in California, as they crush the fruit before it has time to bleed.
    we have a week or a bit more cold chain, which is same temp as CS. the crystals are dropped and require a little more time to re dissolve, but happens in the elevated temps of fermentation. I usually feel the dropped gritty crystals at the bottom of the brute when racking. You don’t see it when crushed, as they are all locked up inside the berries with the pulp. Somebody remind us the next time there is fruit at good #’s not needing additions (most fruit from M&M needs no adjusting) to really chill down the berries and see if there is any grit from tartrates. I’m too busy being amazed by the flavor to pay attention to that aspect!!

  4. Proud Puppy permalink
    December 27, 2013

    So next time you look at your #s and maybe that seems unusual, consider the fruit ‘partially pre Cold Stabilized’.

  5. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    December 27, 2013


  6. Gaetano permalink
    December 28, 2013

    After reading that entire post, I cannot figure out what would have made them ban you, with the exception that they probably felt like “non talent hacks”!
    The post was extremely informative. I like the concept “Cold Stabilization of the Grape”, do you think that this is possible? I ask only because this is way above my pay grade, but I find it not only interesting, but innovative as well. I’d like to see two batches of wine made from the same grapes, one left at 32° for “Cold Stabilization of the Grape”, and the other made by traditional methods.
    If crystal did form in the grape, would they drop out at crush or fermentation, or would they dissolve and be absorbed back into the must? I’ve never seen the crystals dissolve after a cold stabilization, I don’t see how it could be different with this method.
    Great read! Thanks~!


  7. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    December 29, 2013

    Well Tim that was only an edited portion of the post. There was more. But to the subject there was no refrigeration at Prospero before M&M arrived on the scene and they introduced “Cold Chain”. Grapes were held in the warehouse at room temperature for days. And that was usual September temps of mid 70s. Whether the grapes were subjected to Cooling Towers developed by Delta and M&M where the grapes are cooled to 32 degrees before loading on a truck is also doubtful. The predictably moldy Corrado stuff certainly never received that handling either. Cold Stabilization of the grape was not even thought of especially since the Central Valley grapes didn’t have that much acid to begin with. Hence the copious use of Tartaric Acid additions each season. It wasn’t until 2007 where this phenomenon of rising TA post Ferment surfaced. And that was the first year of M&M providing North Coast grapes to the East Coast. Lanza and Brutocoa grapes to be exact.

  8. D&S permalink
    December 29, 2013

    Gene, your point above is in line with what I have observed in frozen musts for years. As a fellow East Coaster, I also was once at the mercy of the low to average quality grapes that use to make it here. About 12 years ago, I started using frozen musts from better wine growing regions purchased through Brehm. Now, of course, we have more options and like many of you, I buy mostly from M&M with an occasional Brehm purchase. Because I’m about 4.5 hours from M&M, I still tend to use their frozen musts.

    Every frozen batch in my memory has exhibited a rise in TA and a drop in pH when I compare pre-fermentation and post-fermentation measurements. I was burned doing with this with frozen must in 2002 when I had to subsequently ‘rescue’ the wine with potassium carbonate. The wine was ok but nothing more as a result. Since then I have watched this phenomenon like a hawk since.

  9. Proud Puppy permalink
    December 30, 2013

    Come to think of it it may account in part for your frozen A.P. Merlot having a higher pH than my non frozen fresh lugs. Not the entire difference, but a significant portion. Others that had only the cold storage non frozen also had #s similar to mine. We even had head scratching threads in 07, 08 on WP wondering about it, but about the Chilean fruit with the long travel time, and the reasons we were getting ‘different’ fermentation acid profile.

  10. carmine Frattaroli permalink
    December 30, 2013

    By the way Dan i heat up my spagetti in the broiler it puts a crunch on it. The truth.

  11. Dan Lodico permalink
    December 30, 2013

    nothing wrong with that, Carmine.

  12. Gaetano permalink
    December 31, 2013

    That’s nothing, I don’t give my son a sandwich to take to work, I make him a quick fast sauce and some pasta! What’s the point of being Italian if we can’t eat a nice plate of pasta for dinner!….lol
    Happy New Year Guys!!!!!!!!


  13. Caroline Dorsey permalink
    January 1, 2014

    ok, so all of us using frozen musts see a trend with ta rising after fermentation, just go off the numbers provided on the bucket and not even take pre fermentation readings of ta and ph? Is the brix all skewed then too? This is driving me insane.
    I have never heated up spaghetti in a frying pan but will try it next time

  14. Dan Lodico permalink
    January 1, 2014

    Ok, guys, a non technical story about wine, food, and culture differences:

    In the early 1950s my dad was building a soap factory for Proctor & Gamble, in Marseilles France. P&G was a notoriously conservative company, and Dad and his group were discussing with the local contingent the lunch/cafeteria arrangement.
    The Americans told the French, in no uncertain terms, that there would be no alcoholic beverages sold in the facility.
    Without blinking, the French representative said, “Of course, Of course, no problem. But you must realize that in France, wine is not considered an alcoholic beverage.”
    The Americans conferred, and decided they weren’t going to get any farther than that, and agreed. And wine was always available in the facility.

  15. Gaetano permalink
    January 5, 2014

    ok…so I’m just going to throw this out there….I’m about ready to launch an “Amber Alert” for Gene, maybe put out an APB on Marty Yule…I haven’t seen anyone post in so long that I’m starting to go through withdrawals!


  16. Dan Lodico permalink
    January 5, 2014

    Here’s one for you Gaetano: Racked the PV last week, threw some Kmeta in (just chucked it in there Gene! ) and today I tested SO2 and pH…

    pH came it at 4.38!!! Holy Shit….What’s that need? about 500 ppm?? my chart doesn’t even go that high.

    What kind of pH readings are the rest of you guys getting , post MLF?

    I haven’t had a chance to get TA on it. Anybody got a TA on this?

  17. Dave O'Brien permalink
    January 5, 2014


    I have not racked my PV yet but the pH is 3.94 which is pretty consistent with where we were before MLF. According to Accuvin the MLF is done.

    My Merlot on the other had is no closer to done than it as 4 weeks ago… The Accuvin is still dark purple. I have a fresh packet of VP41 and the fixings…thinking of re-inoculating. The pH is at 3.35, while low should not be hindering the VP41 we originally used.

  18. Dan Lodico permalink
    January 5, 2014

    Thanks, Dave. I wound up blending the AP Merlot with the lake County Cab and it finished nicely. Yours will probably be OK, but in addition to low pH we had high alcohol.

    I re-inoculated my Sangio,because I had a pack of Bacchus (VP-41) on hand.

    As far as the PV, I’ll check again in a few days. pH meters are allowed temperamental days, I guess.

  19. Gaetano permalink
    January 5, 2014

    Dan & Dave, It’s good to read some posts again! I’ve been craving for some good wine making info!
    Dan, how has your weather been?


  20. Dan Lodico permalink
    January 5, 2014

    perfect for cleaning bottles.

  21. crazy run ranch permalink
    January 6, 2014

    Hi Gene, haven’t been here for awhile good to see you guys have been busy. So it sounds like you are advocating just checking pH and forgetting about TA. I agree, if you have done that this year, you wouldn’t be worrying about the crazy TA numbers and just be happy with the pH. I have seen acid level climb on fresh grapes and always assumed it was due to some solids that weren’t in your sample. Makes a lot of sense that you might have this issue from very cold grapes.

  22. Bzac permalink
    January 6, 2014

    I agree , cold storage of grapes could cause some tartaric drop out that could come back into play later.
    I’ve even seen tartaric crystal leave a coating on crushers in Niagra and the finger lakes , these grapes were crushed same day as picked but it was around 2’c when they picked them .

  23. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    January 8, 2014

    Sorry I have not been here to comment but we are in the process of unpacking in our new home in Melbourne Florida. Needless to say it is crazy. And Saturday we leave on a cruise for a week. So carry on gentlemen!

  24. Gaetano permalink
    January 8, 2014

    If you need help Gene, just let me know, I’ll make a sacrifice and come down to Florida, I’ll even house sit for you!
    Hell of a nice guy, ain’t I?


  25. Dan Lodico permalink
    January 8, 2014

    Gene, have a great time on your cruise. Don’t worry about us. It’s so cold here, my blood stream is dropping tartaric crystals.

  26. January 8, 2014

    very nice area, i have two nieces who live in melbourne, they are nurses in the local hospital.

  27. carmine Frattaroli permalink
    January 8, 2014

    That was a good one Dan!!!!

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