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importance of pH in wine and mead
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    i recently tried a friends mead.
    it was very well made, smooth, no alcohol aftertaste. you could tell, unlike many of my early meads, that it was made with care. the problem was it tasted flat. i had other people over when it was opened and they made comments like, bland, not exciting, watery, etc.....

    this is a simple pH problem.

    mead is a type of white wine. white wines have very little ability to hide flaws. pH is a huge player in mouthfeel.
    in beer, this isn't very important, but in wine, its a big deal.
    pH gives wine the "zing", the acid is what makes your gums tingle slightly, gives you a big mouthfeel. but when youare actually making it, its a very minor part that is easily overlooked.

    the best time to add acid to your wine or mead is pre ferment. it is much harder to change pH after fermentation due to the buffering ability of alcohol. so, take a reading, and add your acid before you add your yeast.

    so, how do you know when to change pH? this is something you can eventually learn to taste, but it takes a whole lot of drinking. i am at a point now where i can taste a sip and come very very close to guessing the pH of a wine. i judge it by how much my molars tingle, but i'm weird like that.
    starting out, you will need either a pH meter, (~50 bucks) or wine acid strips (5 bucks for a hundred). the acid strips are the standard paper things you dip in the liquid like we all used in high school chemistry class, except these are shittier and can only be read in full sunlight; if you try to take a reading on a cloudy day, you're screwed. still, the strips are much better than nothing and i recommend them if you don't want to purchase a meter.
    actual meters work the best and i highly suggest purchasing one if you plan on making several batches of wine.

    the pH for white wines is generally in the range of 3.2-3.6 with the more acidic being favored by prussians like myself.

    as far as acid adjustments go, you can use citric acid, malic acid, acid blends, whatever. its personal preference and more advanced folks match the acid to the fermentable (malic for cider, etc.) but truly, most will never taste the difference.

    but my wine came out flat, what do i do now?
    not a huge deal, you can always add 1/2 tsp of acid blend to every bottle, or just mix your mead with something acidic when you go to drink it. sure, it's kind of hoosier to mix mead and sprite, but it sure does taste great! some may find a higher class option is to mix it with a splash of flavored tonic water. whatever your tastes, they are all delicious.

    if you have any questions about acid in wine or mead, please address them here. i am happy to answer any you may have to the best of my abilities.

    JerryC_BThym
  • JerryJerry
    Posts: 72,103
    cool, I'll have to test and adjust that mead I have aging before I bottle.
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    again, it takes lots more acid to adjust pH after ferment than before. where it may take1 tbsp to adjust preferment, it will take 6 after fermentation.
  • JerryJerry
    Posts: 72,103
    Okay, I was thinking of pulling a sample and playing with it and some citric acid to get an idea of what it'll need. It also might be trash, it's the first mead I've made.
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    you can adjust after ferment, just realize it may take more acid. not a big deal.
  • JerryJerry
    Posts: 72,103
    I will not realize that and it is a big deal!
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 76,472
    Stupid question maybe..... For your easy mead recipe (the one I thought was epic and want to replicate) I would mix the honey and water, then test pH? Honey has a really wide possible pH range so my pH could be all over the map?
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 76,472
    Oh, and malic acid is best for mead?
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,024
    good info. nice job, hippy.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 76,472
    I liked it even though that cost me 2 karma points.

    Jerry
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    i think the easy mead recipe says to put in a tablespoon of acid blend when you rack to secondary, which is sort of mid-ferment. its the easiest way to do it, but with all "easy" recipes, kind of generic.

    but yes, you would mix honey and water, then pull a pH reading and go from there. then you would begin adding acid, a teaspoon at a time, until you hit 3.3 (if i was doing it) knowing that the yeast in many wine strains, 71B being the most pronounced, will raise your pH a point or two.

    i have made true prussian ciders with a pH of 3.2, they are unique and not for everyone, but i really liked them.

    as far as the best acid for mead....that's hotly debated. i usually use a blend of citric,malic and tartaric because that's what i have around. i can't taste any difference and tend to think those that "swear they can taste a difference" are full of corny poops.

  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,024

    i think the easy mead recipe says to put in a tablespoon of acid blend when you rack to secondary, which is sort of mid-ferment. its the easiest way to do it, but with all "easy" recipes, kind of generic.

    but yes, you would mix honey and water, then pull a pH reading and go from there. then you would begin adding acid, a teaspoon at a time, until you hit 3.3 (if i was doing it) knowing that the yeast in many wine strains, 71B being the most pronounced, will raise your pH a point or two.

    i have made true prussian ciders with a pH of 3.2, they are unique and not for everyone, but i really liked them.

    as far as the best acid for mead....that's hotly debated. i usually use a blend of citric,malic and tartaric because that's what i have around. i can't taste any difference and tend to think those that "swear they can taste a difference" are full of corny poops.



    i can taste the difference. send me a bottle of each one and i'll tell you what's in each bottle. ;)

    Thym
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B