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Very High Acid In Plum Must


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#1 feffer

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 02:11 PM

I have 4 batches of plum wine going, and all have TA readings of 22 g/L or higher. No water was added; it's all plum juice. Some will become dessert wine, so I think back-sweetening will balance the acid on those.

However, I want to make some into an off-dry wine and I'm not sure how to handle that. I'd prefer not to dilute it with water, and I don't want to add a lot of sugar at the end (maybe 2-3% RS would be OK). As I recall, calcium carbonate and the like are only good for reducing acid by 3 g/L or so and that would still be too high. Am I wrong about that? Can I reduce the TA much more? If so, what should the target be?

#2 Whackfol

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 02:53 PM

Drop back and tell us more about how you measured your TA. Did you measure the pH? If so, what was it? Was the TA measurement made pre-fermentation or during fermentation? If during fermentation did you degas or boil off the CO2? What was your sample size? What was the normality of your NaOH and was it standardized? What was your formula for calculating TA? Did you use a pH meter? If so, was it calibrated?

I don't know plums, but in the grape world 22g/L would be 3-ish times a normal TA. I suspect an error in your measurement process or procedure. Look there first and then evaluate your needs.

Also, how does it taste? Is is bitter?

#3 feffer

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 03:15 PM

The measurements were correct. Using a pH meter shows 2.94 to 3.11 for 3 batches, and yes it was calibrated. Using known good .1 NaOH and an acid test kit, I used my pH meter to establish the TA end-point. Tests were made pre-fermentation after sugar, pectic enzyme etc were added and a few hours had passed. The TA results for all 3 batches was above 22g/L and I tested the first batch twice. The high number surpised me too. The must was very tart.

In previous years, I used quite a bit of water in my plum must, and got TA readings around 10g/L. So I'm pretty sure the TA reading I got for this pure plum juice is accurate. I've heard other fruit wine-makers mention high acidity in plums and some other fruit. The problem is what to do about it.

The batches destined for dessert wine can be balanced with sugar. But for the drier wine, can I reduce the acid enough with calcium bi-carbonate or similar, or will I be forced to dilute it with water?

#4 Whackfol

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:21 PM

Wow, I had no idea plums were that high. Hopefully, someone will have some knowledge of plum wine.

Just thinking but: Do you know what acids are primary in plums? If it is malic, maybe MLF will help. Roughly, what level of acidity are you seeking? I ask because I think 1 g of potassium carbonate only reduce TA by 1g/L. Your addition would be bigger than anything I have heard of. You always have cold stabilization also but I don't know what you could expect.

#5 S Hofner

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 05:51 PM

I feel your pain. I have spent a couple of years beat this one around. I have tried the conventional approaches. Next year I am going to hammer it with calcium carbonate. I intend on ignoring the 3 g/l on the label, pay no heed to the TA and add calcium carbonate until the pH is between 3.3 and 3.4. I might regret it, but I will never know until I try. I believe this is Green Zeus's approach as well....got the idea from him.
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#6 Needshelp

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 11:04 PM

I got lucky with my plum I made this summer. It came in at 3.3, all juice no water. I added calcium carbonate to 3.4, just a small amount. According to Jack Keller's site, the acid in plum is primarily malic, so 71B yeast or better yet Maurivin yeast to metabolize the malic. Then you could adjust post ferment with Potassium Bicarbonate.
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#7 Green Zeus

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 08:24 AM

Go right ahead and use the calcium carbonate to get the PH up to about 3.3 on plum. We OFTEN take musts that start out at 2.9 PH all the way to 3.4 with calcium carbonate with no chalky flavor. I've read many a white paper on calcium carbonate, warning you about using too much. Well, we've been making wine 23 years---before the internet and all the info that is provided today. In our "stupidity" on the issue, we just used the calcium carbonate as much as needed to hit our target PH. Now we are reading we shouldn't do it. ( I guess the "ignorance is bliss" remark can be inserted here.) But we found, thru our own experiences, that there is no issue in using it.

I would be careful to get the PH adjusted using calcium carbonate pre-ferment so you don't have to resort to potassium carbonate post ferment. Potassium can destroy the volatiles in wine and ruin the nose and flavor. Especially with a delicate-tasting wine like plum.

#8 feffer

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:05 PM

Go right ahead and use the calcium carbonate to get the PH up to about 3.3 on plum. We OFTEN take musts that start out at 2.9 PH all the way to 3.4 with calcium carbonate with no chalky flavor...

I would be careful to get the PH adjusted using calcium carbonate pre-ferment so you don't have to resort to potassium carbonate post ferment. Potassium can destroy the volatiles in wine and ruin the nose and flavor. Especially with a delicate-tasting wine like plum.

Thx, this is good to know! I will go ahead and adjust the pH pre-fermentation. How about the really high TA? I know it will move down some as the pH goes up, but should I just focus on using calcium carbonate to adjust the pH and let the TA fall where it will?

I got lucky with my plum I made this summer. It came in at 3.3, all juice no water. I added calcium carbonate to 3.4, just a small amount. According to Jack Keller's site, the acid in plum is primarily malic, so 71B yeast or better yet Maurivin yeast to metabolize the malic. Then you could adjust post ferment with Potassium Bicarbonate.

I understand that there is a lot of malic acid in plums. I half-heartedly tried an MLF last year, but w/o much success. Will 71B yeast really metabolize the malic? I'm not sure I've seen that elsewhere. Or do you mean 71B is compatible with a later MLF? If 71B would spontaneously metabolize the malic, I would try that.

In the end, I always seem to need back-sweetening, but I've been trying to get the RS as low as possible and have balance w/o harshness. Last year, I got one batch to 2% RS that was pretty good, but that batch had water added to the starting must.

#9 Wade's Wines

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:07 PM

71B will.
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#10 Needshelp

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:38 PM

The 71B will metabolize the malic. The Maurivin will metabolize even more. However, I'm not sure if 71b or Maurivin are compatible with simultaneous MLF. I would check the Lalvin and Maurivin websites.
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#11 Green Zeus

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 06:04 AM

feffer---that's correct. Get your PH where you need it and ignore the TA. We never bother with TA on fruit wines.

71B will metabolize up to 20% of the malic. However, other yeasts perform well with plum. We made a golden plum wine one year with Montrachet, adjusted the PH to 3.3 and it was VERY excellent.




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