Non-Volatile Wine Acids

This is a long article, so, the TAKEAWAY:  preserve as much of your non-volatile acids as possible by choosing us for your VA reduction needs.

 

When reducing volatile acids (acetic, as well as butyric, propionic, and others), attention to non-volatile (fixed) wine acids is needed as well.  On the face of it, this may seem simple.

 

However, if your chosen process reduces fixed acids, return to the starting pH  by adding tartaric (and/or malic) may result in an overly acidic taste.  Either way, it will result in a different taste than where the wine started (notwithstanding the reduction in volatile acids).

 

Adding tartaric at a higher ratio than it was originally present (in relation to lactic, malic, etc.) also changes the wine's tartrate-potassium balance. This instability may be worth considering as it may not only initiate a precipitate, but the resulting changes in wine pH as well.

 

In addition, when a wine undergoes ion exchange, it may develop an increased buffering capacity.  This may make it harder to return the wine to its original pH without a higher TA than it originally had.

 

pH and acidity balance may become a moving target--certainly sensory acid balance and acceptable pH can be difficult to simultaneously achieve.

 

Clearly the most desirable option is to remove as little non-volatile acids as possible. The high pressures of reverse osmosis can help with this, but the resulting impact of very high pressures on the wine is unacceptable.  Therefore, we have selected optimal membranes to pass more volatile acids, and less non-volatile acids at low pressure.  We minimize non-volatile acid removal by increasing volatile acid removal, thus minimizing the total processing required.  Therefore, at the end of processing, we have removed 35% less non-volatile acids than nanofiltration and other methods, and about the same non-volatile acids as reverse osmosis.

 

We feel that this is the most desirable process because it minimizes the total processing required and results in less acid loss than nanofiltration and other low-pressure applications. It avoids altogether the high pressures associated with reverse osmosis.

 
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